Month: June 2015

Small Success Thursday: The Spoilers/Praises of Pinterest Edition

It’s Thursday, when we celebrate the good things of all sizes over at CatholicMom.com.  

Come join this week’s winners at life!Small-Success-dark-blue-outline-800x8001-400x400@2x

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I’ve been acting inside my head writing!  Did you see how last week I talked about using Through Line from Method Acting as a writing tool? Here’s how it looks in my little world.  If you look SUPER CAREFULLY, like with a magnifying glass, you’ll get some spoilage for Never Let Me Down Again, the tentative title to the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.

MotivationChartJune2015

Sorry.  Don’t know how I can make that bigger without blowing it out of proportion (literally).  Anyway, the way it works is the character’s name is in blue in the header.  The next cell down is the character’s motivation, WHICH MUST BE AN ACTION VERB.  Underneath that (and this part is a sunblock of my own invention) in brackets is the opposite of that motivation verb.  Why?  Because conflict is the engine of story, and every story must bring the characters up against the reality of having their motivations thwarted, complicated, and thrown into question.

TheOtherIsADalek

Moffat may drink our tears, but he knows what he’s doing.

Then the third cell down is a brainstorm of actions, body language, and/or images springing from the character’s motivation.  Want me to chat with your writing group about Method Writing?  Give me a holler. Let’s talk.  In the meantime, I pin Method stuff to my Writing-Related Pinterest board, so check that out as well.

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Top Secret: I’ve somehow kept up my habit of exercising a bit every morning. To keep it from getting monotonous and to address what it feels like my body needs most that morning, I’ve been keeping a stash of different quick circuit training workouts on a secret Pinterest board.  Why do I keep this one secret?  For dumb reasons. But it works, so I that’s how I do.

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Wheat in the heck? I try to live as authentically as I possibly can.  A bit of pride comes with that, in that I’m not one to follow trends, because they usually don’t feel sincere in my life.  But, hello, pride?  You know, the sin that says you’re better than everyone?  The Holy Spirit is always on the hunt for ways to get that sin out of my life so that I can really live without boundaries.  So my pride has gotten knocked down a bit in the past week, because now it seems my body wants to follow a trend.

I’ve been somewhat hypoglycemic all my life, but it got markedly worse after the birth of Second Shift.  I talked to my doctor last year in desperation and tried to follow all the hints for hypoglycemics: lots of fiber, low sugar, lowered fat, small meals, whole grains.  Nothing seemed to work.  So I’d eat a lower-calorie meal only to have my body 20 minutes later send me the message that IF YOU DON’T EAT A LOT OF FOOD RIGHT NOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.  You can probably imagine how hard that makes it to lose any kind of weight.  So in a year of trying to live like a hypoglycemic, I’ve thrown on about an extra twenty pounds.  It’s unbelievable, not to mention counterintuitive.

Last Thursday was very busy, and I’d eaten nothing but junk, junk, junk.  But it wasn’t until dinnertime that I realized I hadn’t had a single episode of low blood sugar.  I brushed it off as coincidence, but the next day when trying to pick something to eat for breakfast, I thought back to the previous day’s food choices:

  • Fruity Krispie treats for breakfast (with added artificial dyes and sugars to boot)
  • Hot dog & pineapple kebabs
  • Popcorn
  • Cheese slices
  • Corn chips & salsa
  • Chicken & rice with kale

and not a single bite of wheat.  Dreading the result, I decided to give up wheat instead of flesh meat for my Friday sacrifice to see what would happen.  By Saturday morning I felt better than I had in years.  Years.

Happy face!  Sad face.

So I don’t know how it happens, but it seems that I like wheat but my pancreas doesn’t. I’ve avoided wheat all week and with the exception of the beer I had with hubs on Father’s Day (which, made me feel horribly shaky…and hungry, of course, for the next 24 hours), and the Eucharist on Sunday, I’ve been avoiding wheat.  And, well, I’ve been feeling much better.  My belly also has lost a lot of bloat, and I have enough energy that my morning workouts are no longer such a pain.

There seems to be some sort of threshold (the wheat in Eucharist didn’t bother me, and I’ve had soy sauce with no reaction), so that’s good.  Also, knowing my body, I don’t plan on going cold turkey; the last time I cut an allergen completely out of my life, my next reaction to it was anaphylactic.  Um, thanks but no thanks.  So we talked about scheduling times when I’ll have, say, a donut, or tomato pie.

She says, looking wistfully at her book cover.  Anyway, if you have any favorite wheatless recipes Pinned, send them my way and I’ll add them to my Wheat in the Heck board.

What has gone right for you this week?  Join the Small Success Thursday linkup at CatholicMom.com! 

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The 7 Quickest of Takes

Over at Kelly’s place.  You know what to do.
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We’ve had one open house with four visitors, one actual official-like realtor showing, and no offers yet.  Please keep praying.

Those booze boxes are empty.  Now they are, anyway.

Those booze boxes are empty. Now, anyway.

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I’ve been exercising a bit every morning right after  I get out of bed.  Am I the only one who doesn’t feel better after exercising?  Wheezing, aching, point-tenderness?  Then again, I also want to not die any earlier than I can possibly manage. So I keep trying.  Intermittently.

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I’m part of two panels at the Catholic Writers Guild Live next month.  Go, and do not miss this conference again.

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I’m making some invisible headway on Never Let Me Down Again,  the working title for the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me:

Don't You Forget About Me FTcasefrontcover

I got so stuck that I’ve had to resort to writing exercises.  One of them is a sunblock of my own invention: Through Line.  It’s based on the Through Line from Method Acting.  It’s great in that it provides action verbs that can translate very well into layered characterization and later into deeper imagery.  All that is my way of saying that I’m glad I majored in Theatre instead of English.

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Speaking of theater majors, tomorrow I’m going to a mini-reunion for my college department.  I’ll be seeing the people I worked with over twenty years and eighty pounds ago.  I’m excited and truly looking forward to it.  I’m also a bit anxious.  These people have a lot of reasons to look down on me.  However, I have lots of reasons to love them.  So, I’m going.  All additional decades and pounds of me.

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My only thought on people who’ve decided to go through colossal changes to their bodies and how people relate to them:  I am reminded of The Woman Who Wasn’t There. All my life I’ve seen people become what at some essence (fashion-wise, social-wise, DNA-wise, whatever-wise) they are not.  I have been one of those people.  Sometimes I wonder if I still am, though in my typically bass-ackwards way.  I am painfully uncomfortable maintaining any kind of facade, though that’s through no virtue of my own: I am just too scatterbrained to keep up any kind of a lie for very long, .

We’re all looking for acceptance.  I’ve seen people search for that acceptance by, either deliberately or subconsciously, seeking out groups who have a rule, unspoken or otherwise, to reject nobody.  I think that’s why it’s pretty important to teach our kids (and, ahem, ourselves) to accept who and what we are, because there’s always gonna be someone who wants you to be something you’re not.  If I’ve learned anything from the dubious virtue of being too scatterbrained to spin the plates of a public-vs-private-face, it’s that when we’re secure in who and what we are, we don’t even want to put up a fight or a front over how much acceptance others owe us.  They can’t give me what I don’t need because I already have it.

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I wanted to end with Charleston.  The piece that’s taught the me the most on it is by Jen Fitz.  Jen Fitz is my spirit animal.  My southern, laid-back, quietly observant, subtly charming spirit animal.

In reading and praying over the list of victims, the one who resonates the most with me personally is Tywanza Sanders.  Yes, he was a young black man, and I’m a middle-aged white woman.  However, when I saw his age, I saw myself a few years ago, the only twentysomething at a Bible study, the youngest by thirty years.  So, as strange as it sounds to say, in some small way, I’ve been in his seat at the Bible study.  Would I have stood up to take someone else’s bullet?  I’d like to think so.  May he pray for me as I’ll pray for him, that I can be courageous like he was.

Another reason to be Catholic: in the communion of saints, we can become friends with people we never would have met, on this earth, either because of human constructs or simple physical distance.  God willing, when we ourselves reach heaven, those friends will be waiting for us, arms outstretched, shouting, “Finally!  You made it!”

“Why I Stay Catholic,” with the Aid of the Internet

Disclaimer:  I know none of this artwork is mine.  I’m not making any money off of it.  Try to sue me, and you won’t make money off of it, either.  

Elizabeth Scalia on Patheos has invited Catholic bloggers to respond to the question, “Why do you remain a Catholic?” I was thinking on this question and reading others’ responses, like Sarah Reinhard‘s and Barb S‘s.  Then I woke up this morning with the realization that I couldn’t possibly tell you why I stay without explaining why on earth I came back in the first place.

I’m a storyteller.  Let me tell you a story.

Once upon at time, many years ago, there was a little girl who loved nature and science and art all together.  Basically, she loved learning.  She was a nerd from the get-go.

LisaSimpson

Alas, she grew up in a world where adults weren’t to be trusted.  They lied to children.  They manipulated.  At best, they ignored them.  At worst, they used them for their own gratification and told the child it was her fault.  They put the “ME” in “The Me Generation.”  As for catechizing the little girl?  You mean, from the cafeteria line?  CatholicBabyBoomersMeme

Anyway, this girl, while not a Millenial, did get sent to Catholic schools for thirteen years (kindergarten included) during the late 1970s into the super-early 1990s.  High school saw her progress from suicidal thoughts, to aggressive atheism, to a nice, bland “I’m spiritual, not religious,” agnosticism.  Her gods were her ability to read palms and tarot cards in the lunch room and at cast parties for modest sums.  Strangely, the only Catholic school lessons that did stick were the ones on abortion and, perhaps less so, the one on artificial birth control being bad for you, on a scientific level, mind you.  She couldn’t see past the science of them both.  So.  Remember, she’s a nerd?

LisaSimpsonShopping

Oh, and the whole “save yourself for marriage” bit:  see, it was the age when the world was being introduced to HIV/AIDS.  This girl had an anxiety about getting sick and dying a horrible death, so the whole “waiting” thing seemed smart, but it was not taught in a very cohesive manner, so she only thought she had to wait for some things.

And then she, her palm readings and her tarot cards got to college.  All she knew upon arrival was that she was a weird person whom people generally don’t like.  She didn’t know why she had trouble trusting and connecting with people.  Then she got cast in a play where she played a character who had faced similar (not the same, just similar) betrayals as she herself had throughout her life up until that point.  She broke down.  During rehearsal.  In front of the whole cast.

FrodoFalling

She didn’t know why.  She just knew something was even more wrong with her than she initially suspected.

She went home from rehearsal, curled up under the quilt made by her (devout Catholic) Granny, and stared at a wall.  She shook a lot.  She tried not to sob too loudly.  She remembered things she’d experienced and thought to herself, “That’s not such a big deal.  Why would something so minimal make me this upset? After all, everyone always told me that whatever I thought was making a big deal out of nothing.” But that thought did nothing to console or heal.  Whatever was going on was much bigger than she herself was.

JLawWhatDoIDo

So she stared at the wall some more and thought, “Okay, God or whatever you are.  I just want The Truth.  I don’t care what it is.  I just want The Truth so I can get out of this bed and have things be better some day.”

Over the next days, weeks, and months, God (not the whatever, thankfully) answered her.  She did still own a Bible (for the intellectual exercise of reading it, like reading Thoreau), and she’d heard that the Psalms could be comforting, so she read those.  She also read about Wicca and Buddhism and Shinto and a whole alphabet soup of scavenging for Truth.  After about four months, she and her nerdy, metaphor-loving brain could find no more solid metaphor for God than the cross and resurrection.

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Disappointed that she couldn’t find truth in nature worship or something cool like Eastern religion, she conceded.  “Okay, fine, God.  You want me to be Christian.  I’ll be Christian.  Just whatever You do, don’t make me Catholic.  The odds that I’d be born into The Truth are pretty darn slim to begin with, and besides that, nobody likes Catholics and their archaic, made-up beliefs that have no basis in reality.”

She joined the campus Christian fellowship, but in the interests of remaining open-minded, she still poked around the local Catholic community center. Except remember how she didn’t just like literature and plays and art?  She also liked science a whole lot and always felt kind of torn at having to choose a major?  Well, she loved nature.  A lot. Hence Wicca being mentioned first on the list above.   A girl who loves both nature and metaphor is a sucker for finding the logic in Natural Law, and a girl who doesn’t trust authority is going to mistrust what the culture says her.

Guess what?  Catholicism is all about Natural Law.  And even moreso, Catholicism is about Truth being solid, unchanging, utterly immune to manipulation.

“Oh, crap,” she said to God.  “Am I Catholic?”

InaraSeeItComing

She was talking to God pretty regularly at this point, and said, “Okay.  I can’t stand that this means that most of my friends are living in a way that is contrary to biological reality, but since I still get to love them, I can stomach it.  However, I still don’t get the Eucharist, Mary, or the Pope.  You’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”

Pascal

Considering how much this girl got metaphor, the Eucharist barrier was the first to tumble: God loves us so much that it’s completely intimate.  He loves us so much that he won’t just die on a cross for us.  He literally will go through $h1t for us.  It’s a no-brainer.  The Eucharist is Jesus.  No other Christian faith teaches that with such clarity and reverence.

The Pope was next: every play needs a director, and her life was plays at the time.  Easy-peasy.  Not like this:

ChainofCommand

The Mary thing was tougher.  Human moms are unrealistically held up as the height of perfection.  Mary was just another human mom, so what’s the point?  Funny enough, this girl was reading one of the most anti-Catholic novels every to be written just as she was struggling with this idea of Mary being a sinless intercessor for us with Jesus.  Goddess worship abounded.  But Mary couldn’t be God.  There’s only one God.  But upon closing the book, this girl virtually heard God say, “What makes you think I would leave you without a mother?”

Worth2Men

“Oh, crap,” she thought.  “I guess I really am Catholic.”

So by junior year, she poured the cultural Kool Aid down the drain, made several decent confessions, and accepted the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Peter’s great confession, “To whom else could we go, Lord?” sounded in her head more like, “If there were somewhere else to go, Lord, believe me:  I’d be there.  But you’re Truth, so I’m stuck.”

There was still one thing, though, that took a few more years to take, something she only learned while practicing True Catholicism.  It was the value of suffering.  She had suffered much in her life, and becoming Catholic did nothing to ease that.  It did, however, give it meaning.  Other faiths teach that suffering is to be avoided, ignored, or passed on to others (especially if you’re counting Western individualism as a religion).  Catholicism is the only faith that teaches that suffering has meaning and value and can be accepted with love for God and for others.

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Suffering means that God loves us so much that he wants us to know the agony of his own heart.  It’s not about winning heaven, like some twisted martyr complex.  It’s about having faith and hope that we are loved in a relationship, that we get to give, not just receive.  We have the honor of loving God back.

So, yeah.  I’m that girl.  And, crap, I guess that girl’s Catholic.  Still.  So, however reluctantly most days, I run to God.

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What’s more amazing is that he runs to me right back.

Why do you stay Catholic, when everybody else is leaving?  Blog it, and let Elizabeth Scalia know by tweeting at her @TheAnchoress.