September’s Open Book & Sabbath Rest Book Talk

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

In the interests of being as efficient with my time as I possibly can, I’m killing two birds with one stone.  In addition to reviewing books for #OpenBook, I’ve started a monthly event on Facebook Live over at my author page.  It’s called Sabbath Rest Book Talk, and in it I’ll talk about a few of the books I’ve read in the past month in terms of how they, as fiction, help us grow in humanity.

This month’s focus was on meaning, or how fiction uses meaning to convey layer upon layer of experience, understanding, and dimensionality of the human experience.  When we humans use symbols to communicate meaning, we give flesh and bone and substance to the invisible.

September’s SRBT Featured Fiction:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

(Click here for my more detailed review of The Lion’s Heart)

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

Other stuff I’m reading:

It is Right and Just by Rev. John Cunningham, OP & Rev. George Cardinal Pell [nonfiction]

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

Night by Elie Weisel [narrative nonfiction]

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

And here’s September’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk video:

Fiction is Good for You: Sabbath Rest Book Talk meets An Open Book book review linkup bit.ly/SabbathBooks

What are you reading?  Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!

Interview with Working Mother Tiffany, the Catholic Librarian

Catholic Librarian

Tiffany the Catholic Librarian

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.  Today is the feast of my Dominican patron, St. Thomas Aquinas.  In honor of this saint who spent plenty of time in the library (and whose work has sent several of us there), let’s meet working mother Tiffany, the Catholic Librarian!

What’s your name?

Tiffany, and I blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian. I write about my Catholic faith, my family, the liturgical year, librarianship, crafts, my love of Middle Eastern dancing (which I started studying as a once per week timeslot of pure “me time” to charge my batteries a bit), and generally amusing things that happen in my daily, and ordinary, life. J

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

This coming January 8th, I’ll have been married for 10 years to my adorable husband, Mike. The date sounds a bit unusual for a wedding anniversary, I know, but we enjoy winter and thus had a snowy wedding day! Our anniversary also falls during Christmas season, which is a liturgical fact I just couldn’t resist. J Mike is an adjunct professor of philosophy and mathematics at several local colleges, two of them Catholic and one a community college. We have two children. Our son, Henry, just turned 9, and our daughter Anne is 3. Henry attends a local Catholic school and is in 4th grade this year. He enjoys reading, crafts, Legos and video games, and recently joined the school wrestling team. He is a very gentle and reserved child, in fact his quiet personality reminds me so much of myself. Anne is *very* precocious and outgoing! She loves to have books read to her and to color, and is such a sweet, loving little girl. Mike is at home with her during the day while he is on semester breaks, and several mornings per week, and she stays with her grandparents while he is teaching and I am at work.

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I am a librarian at a large state university, and I am a wife and mother. I do not see those things in that specific order in terms of their significance in my life, but when someone asks me that in such a setting, they are generally wondering if I work outside of the home, and if so, in what capacity.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

I think that God uses my job to teach me things every day. Patience, perseverance, compassion, understanding, clear communication, all of those things and more. For the most part, I am helping students each day, and I think that we can learn a lot from each other.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

I think that working outside of the home makes me a better mother. This is certainly not the case for everybody, but for me it is. When I was home on maternity leave with my son, I did not know any mothers who stayed at home with their children, and so I had no support system during the day. I found myself very depressed from the lack of adult interaction and it was a difficult time that I find painful to reflect back on. Now, I do have a few friends who are home with their children during the day, so that would be a huge help to be sure. But we do need my salary and benefits for our family finances, so that isn’t an option for me at this time. That aside, I do find that the social interactions and interesting challenges deal with each day at work stimulate me such that when I return home in the evenings, I am ready and able to spend that quality time with my children and husband.

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

This is the conundrum for all working mothers, yes? It is difficult, but has gotten easier over time. I know that I am doing what I have to do for the good of the entire family, and that certainly helps. I also think that I am setting a positive example for my kids in that women have options and prayerful choices available to them depending upon the needs of their family. It is obviously a beautiful and good thing for women to be at home with their children. That situation, however, is not possible for everyone, and so long as a woman has discerned her role in prayer and with her husband, other possibilities are good too.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I think that my family is very supportive of my working role. My husband, who works less hours than me due to his status as adjunct faculty rather than full-time, takes care of SO much around the house and for the kids, and my in-laws help out so much with childcare. I really do not think they could do more, truly. They are wonderful.

Thank you so much, Tiffany!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Interview With Working Mother Cristina

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.  Today is the feast of Dominican St. Raymond of Peñafort, so I gotta draw some attention to my sister in St. Dominic, working mother Cristina of Filling My Prayer Closet!

What’s your name?Cristina of Filling my Prayer Closet

Cristina

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

Mike and I have two boys, ages 10 and 7. We moved from NYC to PA 4 years ago so that I could take care of the kids and the loss of my income would not be such a hit. Your dollar stretches a little farther here than in NYC, as you can imagine. While I was at home with the boys, I worked on obtaining my master’s degree to teach high school English. I’m still two classes away from finishing that. In those 4 years, my husband was laid off for 6 weeks, got another job, and this time it was a work from home position. He travels internationally from time to time but for the most part, he’s the stay at home Dad now.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

“I’m an executive assistant at a business information company. I know, that’s vague. Basically, I make sure my leader doesn’t have to worry about anything administrative. I also provide comic relief.”

 

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

My husband and I talk all the time about future planning, and options. We’re kind of obsessed with it. Let me explain. We always want to be as prepared as we can be for anything that could come up. We examine all scenarios from the logical to the irrational, and then pose a “what would we do?” question around it. That’s how I rejoined the workforce. We sat down and listed what our priorities were: better neighborhood with an even better school district, but also getting the boys into Catholic school. I’m sure you’re asking why we would worry about the school district if we were putting them in Catholic school? Well, within the first two years of being a stay-at-home mom, my husband was laid off for 6 weeks, he was on disability and I was still dealing with epilepsy in my oldest son (he’s since recovered – very rare). The thinking is, if we ever can’t afford Catholic school, at least they will “fall” into the best school district in the area.

This meant that I had to go back to work to help with the increase in expenses. I did not want to. I was so scared. I loved being home and with my babies, um boys. I was also a new convert to the Catholic faith and was worried that “work” would distract me from my faith journey. I spent some time in Adoration to pray for His will. There were three positions and I wanted one, one wanted me, and one of them was back in corporate. I did not want to go back to corporate. Ever. Well, the job I wanted never called me back (until I had already accepted the corporate job), the job that wanted me took forever to make an offer and the one I wanted, was with my Diocese. The Diocese called me the day after I accepted my the job I’m in. There was a mix up with paperwork. Turns out that my leader goes to my parish, and there are quite a few people here who also go to my parish, or are Catholic. God heard me, and placed me where he knew I would land softly. There is plenty of flexibility to see school plays, to work from home if my boys get sick, or need to go to a doctor’s appt. And now, we live across the street from our Parish and their school.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? Cristina's Family

The boys spend a lot of time with their Dad, which I love. I got to spend every day with the boys for two years while he traveled. We moved in August, and the following year, between January and July, he was home collectively, for a month. I was in a new town and knew no one. I was the one walking the dog, taking the kids to school, homework, school events, taking out the garbage, all of it, by myself. That was tough. I didn’t even know where the nearest grocery store or hospital was. So to have him with them now, he gets his turn at one on one time with the boys.

I also think that working with people who happen to also be Catholic, and seeing them at mass, week after week is just nice. Whenever I think about it, I think “nice touch, God.”

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

I don’t really have guilty feelings. My commute is 10 – 15 minutes by car each way and my job / leader are flexible when I need to attend an event, volunteer at the school, or the occasional emergency pick up. The job I have now isn’t like the jobs I had in NYC. When I leave the office at 5PM, I don’t have to check email throughout the evening to keep up, nor will I get caught at 2AM making travel arrangements for someone in China, pretending to my husband that I have to use the bathroom. True story. Everything I remembered about corporate in NYC, is not corporate in PA. I have a lot of work/life balance. As cliche as it may sound, I am truly blessed with the job I have.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

We don’t really have a lot of people in our life. My husband and I moved to this area in PA practically sight unseen (we visited communities twice before deciding where we would live). We were both working 14 hour days in NYC and realized it wasn’t working for our family. We decided and moved quickly. We don’t have family here, so we are all very close; all as in my husband and the boys. I did ask that my husband take on doing his own laundry when I went back to work. He hates it. So I still do it when I can. I mean, he does take care of everything else: cooking, dishes, mopping, sweeping, dusting, grocery shopping, the list goes on and on. Are you sure you shouldn’t be interviewing him?

 

Hee hee.  Maybe next time.  Give him fair warning? Thank you, Cristina!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

“So how has becoming a lay Dominican changed your life?”

Someone recently asked this question on Facebook.  I thought I’d post my answer here, too, as being a Dominican is as much a part of my writing life as having fingers that type or having an imagination.  

20130808-110038.jpg

 

That’s my little watchdog looking at my little watchdog statue.  

In my 20s, I went to a local retreat house. Emblazoned on a ceiling beam were the words, “To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.” I stopped short when I saw those words, and it was like I could almost hear something click into place in my heart. At the time, I didn’t even know what a Dominican is! Being a Dominican has taught me the value of speaking, of silence, of reading and writing. Dominican life has taught me to value myself as a precious member of a huge family that wants nothing but the best for me. I often say the Franciscans are the Hippies of the Church, but we’re the nerds. Being a Dominican has given me the gift of using my nerdiness for God instead of wishing I were one of the cool hippies.

If you would like information about what it means to be a layperson following Jesus in the school of Dominic, make with the clicky.