Do you find Advent peaceful or does the thought of preparing for Jesus at Christmas stress you...
7 Quick Takes – September
I’ve been thinking of writing again, sketching out ideas in my notebook, and struggling to
find time – make time – choose to sit down at the computer after 10 p.m. to actually organize and compose my thoughts. I started writing this 7 Quick Takes last week, week before last, two weeks ago, whenever it was….but was interrupted and couldn’t finish.
Robin Williams – My family was saddened to learn about Robin William’s death. After reading several stories about his suffering, I felt inspired to write. While trying to be sensitive to my friends’ feelings in commenting about my personal experiences, I put a lot of thought into what I said. Apparently I really struck a chord, because two people challenged my opinion and experiences, calling me ignorant and stating “there is no hope” for people suffering with severe depression. One person actually defriended me for sharing my personal feelings and experiences on my personal blog. In writing that post, I wasn’t trying to influence anyone’s beliefs or opinions, I just felt inspired to share my thoughts. Often my friends write things I strongly disagree with; however, I recognize that not everything they share requires a challenging or disapproving comment or response. It’s enough to acknowledge their perspective born out of their own experiences. It’s not my place to change their beliefs, only to offer my own perspective from my own experiences in a non-confrontational way. Sadly, that was not the case with my Robin Williams post.
Joan of Arcadia – This summer I introduced my tween/teen daughters to season one of the 2003-2004 television series Joan of Arcadia. For those not familiar with it, God appears in various personas to our main character, 16 year old Joan Girardi, giving her assignments that make no sense to her, but produce ripple effects across the community. We haven’t finished watching the first season, but I’m struck by how much truth I hear in the dialogue that facilitates some interesting conversations with my daughters as they absorb and analyze the content. The first time I watched the show, my daughters were preschool age and I hadn’t embarked on my personal re-engagement with my faith. Watching this summer, I’m struck by how faithful “God’s position” relates to the Catholic catechism, so I looked up the show’s creator – Barbara Hall. Surprisingly, (or not) she is Catholic, and at the time she created the show, she was a recent convert and the show reflects her own faith journey, questions, challenges, etc. about God in the various views of each character. I could probably write a lengthy blog post about this show.
Books and People – Just before summer, a woman we’ve known through softball invited me to join a neighborhood book club. Serendipitously, the book they were reading for the next meeting was one I was currently listening to via audio during my commute. (The First Phone Call From Heaven.) Though I haven’t attended all of the meetings or even read all of the books, I’m enjoying the opportunity to learn more about and from a very diverse group of women. Most of these women are internationally traveled. In fact, I might be the only native Texan. Several of us have daughters about the same age – I suspect most of them know each other from the local elementary school – and three of the moms have daughters playing softball with my daughter. In the beginning I felt very uncomfortable, but I’m learning to relax and find a balance in my conversation offerings. In addition to the above, we’ve read Crazy Rich Asians (loved it!), Glass Castle: A Memoir (couldn’t read it), The Tiger’s Wife (unfulfilling) and Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (had to force myself to finish it.) September’s book is Reconstructing Amelia (easy read).
Working Moms – Lisa attended the Edel Gathering in Austin this summer. Although I couldn’t go, I read through the “Who’s Attending” roll call with interest, noticing how the majority of attendees appeared to be SAHM bloggers. Whenever I identified a working mom, I’d zip Lisa a message saying – make sure you meet this person for me. After the Edel meeting, Lisa sent me information about a new Facebook group for Catholic Working Moms. What a blessing. (I wish I’d thought of it!) New moms, older moms, moms who work part-time, full-time, or during the school year with summers off. Moms who love their jobs and careers; moms who pray for the opportunity to become a SAHM. Every possible experience is shared and prayed over by a group of women who understand and affirm one another. In reading their experiences, my own anxiety or stress is lessened and I offer up prayers for their challenges.
Back to School Supplies – School is back in session and with it the routine, schedules, and school supply lists. I miss the elementary years when you pre-ordered the PTO packet of required supplies. Even if you didn’t, you had the list in May and did your supply shopping a few weeks before school actually started. With one in high school and one in middle school, we don’t know what supplies they will need until the first week of school. Each class sends home a syllabus (or URL) that you, the parent, are required to read, print, sign, and return to school. The syllabus includes the supplies list and/or fee.
Teachers and Technology – The same technology that makes it possible for us to stay connected to our employers 24-hours a day has permeated our schools. I have one daughter in high school and another in middle school. They each have seven classes (14 total) and every teacher maintains a website. The high school offers a “staff” page that links to each teacher’s webpage, but the middle school isn’t so organized. You’d better bookmark those URLs because they’re not easy to find again. To find out about homework, students are required to check in daily with numerous websites that vary by teacher for each class. Edmodo seems to be the primary website where teachers upload documents, post assignments, and require students to answer questions through a social media styled interface. The music department uses Charms, an electronic way of recording your practice time and printing off sheet music. Essays are only allowed to be submitted through TurnItIn.com. And of course, we couldn’t live without constant text messaging on Remind 101. All students are required to have an email and no flash drives are allowed, although the school provides a “Gaggle” account. Trying to keep up with it all makes my head hurt, but it’s all in a day’s (home)work for my daughters.
ACTS Retreat – When Lisa and I went to our first CNMC in San Antonio, we met the couple behind Real Men Pray the Rosary, a non-profit ministry promoting faith, family, and community. David Calvillo spoke very excitedly about the ACTS retreat and its influence on his life. Although Lisa and I had never heard of ACTS retreat, when I was serving on Pastoral Council a year or two later, the first ACTS retreat was offered to my parish. All the women on Council signed up, but my baby was due at the time and I couldn’t attend. Each time the ACTS retreat was offered, a conflict prevented me from joining. Last week, a colleague who knows I’ve wanted to attend, brought me her parish’s registration form and even though the weekend isn’t ideal (scheduling conflicts) everything suddenly seemed to open up for me to attend and everyone encouraged me to sign up. So I did! And I’m cautiously excited at what might happen in two weeks when I finally get to go on my ACTS retreat. (I’ll let you know!)
Shelly Henley Kelly