Amy E. Taylor, former Catholic Herald staff reporter, is communications coordinator for the communications office of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Continue to follow her new blog at www.ourpast2future.wordpress.com.
Three Sundays ago I was at Mass at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, in a bit of despair. For those of you who’ve been keeping up with my last few blogs, you have come to be familiar with my new feelings of “stuckness” with my life, my job, my family and friends. That morning, it all seemed to hit me at once: I was desperate. I needed help.
I sat through Mass with my rosary clutched in my hands, trying to pray but not really having much luck, trying not to cry but feeling the tears fall regardless. Finally, soon after Communion as I was kneeling down, I did the only thing I could really think of: I prayed to the Virgin Mary for her intercession.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
I have something I need to get off my chest: I have been working on one of my bucket list items without blogging about it. I've been doing it for the past three weeks, in an effort to surprise you but mostly to save my own skin if I fail. However, if I'm going to be serious about accomplishing these goals, I need some kind of accountability here. So, here goes:
Bucket list #2: Have rock hard abs.
Last month I signed up for a class at the local community center that targeted your stomach muscles through the use of various exercises. While the class only lasts 30 minutes (which includes five minutes of stretches at the end) it has been a pretty intense workout for me. I'm not used to doing "side planks" or using weights in my routine. Heck, I'm not really used to a routine in general.
While I only have about three classes left to go, I haven't seen much of a difference in the way I look in a T-shirt these days. So, as much as I would like to announce that I will have accomplished yet another bucket list goal by the end of this month...I seriously doubt that's going to happen. But still, the good old college try is what's important, right?
So, I will update you in a month about my progress in this area. In addition, I'm happy to report that I am now eating better, running on my treadmill regularly and not avoiding stairs at all costs, like I used to.
I can’t be the only one who’s ever felt stuck in their life, can I?
It seems as though this past week (heck, the past month!) I’ve been confronted with brick walls of all shapes and sizes – in my marriage with Matt, in my relationships with family members (many of whom I no longer have a relationship with), my faith journey, my many, many jobs, my physical fitness … sometimes, it seems as though the more I try to fix something or get ahead somewhere, the more things get messed up. The more times I try to speak up and voice an opinion or an idea, the sooner I get shot down. This of course only leads me to feelings of “stuckness.” If that’s even a word, which I doubt.
I know that God has a plan for my life – obviously I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have if that weren’t true. But sometimes, it can be really hard to not get ahead of God, if you know what I mean. I want to get farther in my career, so instead of waiting for one of the many opportunities that come around – eventually – I try to go ahead and make my own, which usually tend to blow up in my face. You get the picture, I’m sure.
This past Sunday, I was at Mass when I was struck with a particular thought during the homily, about how strange it is that God knows what we want in life even better and before we ourselves do. I am living proof that it’s true.
Ten years ago, I was finishing up high school (as a homeschooler, if you remember). I had no plans for college, mainly because I believed that what I wanted to do as a career wasn’t something I needed to attend college in order to do.
I had big plans to write books.
Because of how shy I was most of my life, it seemed as though the only way I could even remotely express myself was through writing. I would study influential writers – Ernest Hemmingway, Leo Tolstoy, J. D. Salinger, Louisa May Alcott and more to name only a few – in an effort to learn from “the masters.” I ate, breathed and slept writing. I wrote for hours on my computer, littered my car with scraps of paper that depicted conversations, situations and ideas for my books, and spent many hours a day poring through and editing pages and pages of text. I began this process since I had turned 17, and just ran with it.
However, as the months turned into years, I become more and more unhappy with how I was living my life through my fictional books. Instead of taking chances and going places, I was doing that through my characters. Before I knew it, I had finished two novels in three years, but didn’t have much to show for it other than a few hundred pages and carpal tunnel syndrome. I spent a very small week sending out synopses of my books to various publishing companies throughout the United States, but of course, nothing really came of it. I was only 20 at the time, you see. I don’t think even I would have taken a chance on that young of a writer.
Lately, I've been thinking over my decision to focus my new blog on crossing items off my bucket list. While at the time I had much resolve and a long list of items, I have discovered that many times, those items are easier written than done. And while I would love to spend my days trying something new or going somewhere I have yet to go, I need to face the truth: more times than not, I have neither the money nor the time to do just that.
I truly enjoy writing this blog for the Catholic Herald, and know that I will continue to do so regardless of what topic I choose in the end (of the day!). However, I feel that unless I have an actual, concrete focus in mind, I'm not really doing a service to my readers.
In my mind, the perfect blog is one that allows its readers to come into the writer's life and view moments that most everyone experiences. However, the fun thing I've discovered is that, while we may all experience these moments at one time or another in our short lives, the way we perceive them and how we handle them can be quite different. And that's what's so fun for me. I love learning about other people, because more times than not I end up learning about myself even more.
So, what I would like to ask my readers is, shall I stick with my one focus of crossing items off my bucket list, or shall I pepper my blog with personal experiences? Now that I have gotten married and no longer need to plan a wedding (thank you Lord!!!), is this blog still something that interests you?
Feel free to vote in the poll, and let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to making this decision together :-)
I don’t know about you, but I have the tendency to feel like a complete failure by the time Lent ends. It’s not that I don’t have good intentions, because I do. In addition fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays, I also begin the season with a resolve to attend daily Mass, pray more so than usual, as well as sacrifice for the souls of others. However, as most of my resolutions end up going, I hardly have the chance to start before my inner voice begins to sound.
“Hey Amy, I know you want to sacrifice for Lent. Heck, we all do! But come on, you’ve just worked a 12 hour work day, and now you think you should head over for eucharistic adoration? I seriously doubt that God is going to be watching you like a hawk, making sure you actually do what you said you would do. How about getting up early tomorrow morning and going to Mass instead? You’ll be tired, but you can do it.”
And of course, as most of my mornings usually start off, I end up hitting the snooze button until I wake up with a start and realize I have 20 minutes to shower and dress before I have to be out the door for work. Sigh. Why must Lent be so hard sometimes?
I read something recently that compared Lent to that of a journey, in which we are in a different place in our lives at the end of those 40 (incredibly tough) days. Truly, I wish to be in a closer, more open relationship with God by the time Lent ends this year. I want to increase my faith in him and in his plans for my future. I want to come to the conclusion that yes, things in my life will sometimes not work out, or will go horribly wrong, but no matter what happens, God will always be by my side to help me.
Well, even though I do tend to spend Lent the same every year, I do have faith that I might be a bit more proactive in my approach this year. I have my "Lenten Companion" book, rosary, Mass schedule, and Matt has been informed when I can and cannot eat meat. Other than that, all I can really do is hope and pray that I stay on the right path this year. Pray for me!
Since beginning rock-climbing class, I have gone through a multitude of emotions: excitement, anger, anxiety and fear. Elation that I finally learned to tie a “double figure eight” and misery that I had to travel nearly an hour away in rush hour traffic after a 10-hour workday to get to the class. Jittery nerves after pushing myself to dizzying heights, and utter emotional exhaustion as I just try to get through each class without breaking my thin arms or (worse!) making a fool of myself.
It’s been a heck of a ride, to say the least, but I have come through it with a very important lesson: “The only thing holding you back is you.”
Many times in life, we use excuses that, frankly, can make a lot of sense. We can’t exercise because we work too late, we can’t eat healthy because it’s too expensive, we can’t make weekday Mass because we start work too early, and the rosary? I always fall asleep before I reach the second decade. Often it can be a never ending list.
One of my last rock climbing classes had to do with following the “trails” they have on the wall. Color-coded, these trails can go from easy, moderate and hard. Often times they have you climbing overhangs, reaching high above to pull yourself up, or using your legs to stand up on a precarious hold as you reach for the holdings with the correct color. When we learned to follow the trails, my instructor got a good taste of my true colors as I came up with every single excuse as to why I couldn’t go past the halfway point.
“My arms are like twigs, they’ll snap if I pull up!”
One of my past blog entries mentioned how I was having trouble finding my place in my new home with Matt. For the first couple of months the house felt cold and disorganized, and without any of my personal touches throughout. Now that we’ve been married for the past three months (dang, has it only been three months?) the house is a lot warmer and my things are all moved in, but it is still disorganized. It’s making me kind of dizzy, to tell you the truth.
I’m the kind of person who needs organization in my life, needs clutter to be at a minimum. I think the problem that Matt and I are facing is that we both have a lot of things, but we haven’t learned to “mesh” them together yet. For example, we really don’t need two coffee pots, and even though we registered for glassware, we really don’t use them very often (or if we do, we already have our favorites and don’t use the rest). So, this weekend looks like a good time to start cleaning house and to get rid of all the “unnecessary” items. Once this is done, it’s time to start decorating!
I’ve been researching different room formats for ideas on how I want our guest room to look like. I’ve finally narrowed it down to these choices below:
I love how this room gives off an "airy" feel, and makes a person feel welcome.
I have just finished my second week of rock climbing, putting in nearly seven hours worth of climbing and basic training. I have climbed to dizzying heights, fallen off rock walls less than three feet from the ground, learned to tie the “double figure eight” knot in my sleep, and overall came face-to-face with one of my worst fears: exercise.
Last night I finally earned my Belay tag, which means that I’ve learned how to “spot” my partner while she (Tracy Rusch is taking the class with me!) climbs on the rock wall. Basically I make sure the rope is tight in case she so happens to miss a step and fall (which has happened, but only because they make us practice falling). It took Tracy and I both a bit to get used to being so high off the ground, but the more we’re in this class, the better we are at heights.
So, learning to rock climb has been tough, but mostly because I’m so shy with new people. Getting out with people I don’t know, forging relationships and being on the spot as we climb across a wall (climb ACROSS a wall, which is so much harder than UP a wall!) while being watched by the whole class, has really set me outside of my comfort zone. The first time I really panicked at the class was the first day, when I realized how big the place was and how many people filled it each night. However, that panic has lessened since I discovered that pretty much everyone is in the same boat as I am, at one time or another in his or her lives.