Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Project October: Day Sixteen: Words from St. Stanislaus

We had some friends of Polish descent in D.C. The Dad was in the grad program with Stephen at CUA.  They named their first born son Stanislaus and called him Stash. Pronounced "Stahsh." I honestly think that is such a cool name, and I'm tucking it away for future ideas! I remember the first time they had us over for dinner. Laura made steak-frites (homemade french fries and steak) and I saw tons of games on their shelves. I was impressed to learn that they were really big into playing Settlers of Catan and Chess together as husband and wife. Laura also goes down in history as the person who said to me, "I think the coolest thing about being Catholic is that I can 'go get some Jesus' any time I want!" --and I remember thinking, "Someday, I'm going to understand what she means!!!"

Recently ,we read the Saint of the Day reading in Lives of the Saints after dinner. We encourage our children to be saints, but not necessarily to become martyrs who die a violent death.  If the saint has a violent death, we omit any  gory details related to that so as not to spook them. Kinda keeps the water a little more still. Ya know? ;)  lol :) 

This reading of saints' lives is now something our kids have come to expect every single night, and wouldn't you know, Madeleine reminds us when we forget now!

April 11 is the Feast Day of St. Stanislaus. Because of our connection to this name, I was intrigued!

St. Stanislaus:  Patron Saint of Poland.  I'm tempted to just quote the entirety of the reading, but instead, I will attempt to describe and paraphrase the story of this saint to you.

He was born into fortune. He studied as a Jesuit in Paris. He returned to Poland, as Priest, and was soon made Bishop. As the Bishop of Poland, he confronted the King for his wrong ways. When the King of Poland would not reform his ways, St. Stanislaus excommunicated him from the Catholic Church. 

As St. Stanislaus was praying in a little chapel, the King of Poland entered with some guards. He asked the guards to murder Stash right there in the chapel, and when they wouldn't do it, the King murdered him with his own hands.

A quote from his life is " I want Christ. I want eternity. I was born for greater things."

Perhaps, God was bringing this saint into my mind to give me comfort at that moment.  Sometimes, blogging can be hard because we are jealous. We see the high reels of others' lives, and we in turn feel inadequate. The jealousy makes me think it isn't worth it. But sometimes, it is the mean and the hurtful online are worse- they are what make me want to all but disappear from social media channels. I could honestly say " I quit right now" on so many days, due to a hurt ego and my hurt pride.

But perhaps on the other side of the screen, behind the appearance of a Mom who has it all together, that Mom who would to tell me to quit? Perhaps she is or was struggling with something. Perhaps my comments to her brought up her pride. Perhaps she was looking down on me because in her spiritual blindness, she could not see her own offenses.

Sometimes, our involvement on the internet is a little one-sided. We want more followers, more comments, more pageviews. But then, when we get it, it's hard not to feel a little superior. But would we really act that way in our own living rooms, with the people we are really with in person?  Would we count likes? Would we try to gather followers in our own homes? Recently on a podcast I heard: Jesus only had 12 disciples. But did he ever stop to count his likes, followers, friends, and #tweets? As I recall, Jesus told us to count our apologies.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven."

 (70 x 7) Perhaps the reason for online rudeness or competitiveness- and dare I mention- lacking in common courtesy at any opportunity- is rooted in pride or the desire for acceptance and followers. Possibly, people can simply become blind to the ways we miss the entry to heaven that's the size of the eye of a needle, because our own desire for acceptance is camel-sized! ;)  For a lack of true community, deliver us Jesus.

And as one last thought for you on this beautiful day: perhaps it is not autonomy or independence that we lack in our culture. Perhaps it is the virtue that must go hand in hand with work and affluence.

This post was originally published on May 17, 2016

Monday, October 15, 2018

Day Fifteen: Good Things {Books} Coming Out of Great Britain

Though intimidated, I was hoping to get some Britishness into my repertoire last month, with the books Calypso, The Keeper of Lost Things, and 84 Charing Cross Road. Readers well know I always shoot from the hip, right?  Well that said, I don't have time not to be honest.  84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff just was not what I was expecting.  But Tacy, you are a reader and writer!  Don't all bibliophiles and bookish marms love this book?  What is with rejecting a poesy of the intersection between American and British book collectors and their shared love of story???  It's not that I hated it per say.  It's just nothing like I was expecting.  The tone seemed to be about books for books themselves, not for what they actually contain. (You'd have to read them to know what they contained, my friend!!! Morals or no? How would you know?.... :)

I read it juxtaposed with two other British books - The Keeper of Lost Things and Calypso. Of all the Britishness that was conjured in my brain, Calypso was far and away the best.  By far and a long ways away.  Now I know David Sedaris isn't originally from England.  I'm not really sure how his writing has become more lustrous since living there, because I haven't read enough of his other books.  But I do know one thing.  It has one of the best rating of all of his books. Read it.

Can I gush Sedaris for a minute? Yes? Ok? thank you.  I will.

David Sedaris
David Sedaris
David Sedaris

Is gushing his name enough?

He is just so chock full of jokes and he has honed each and every story that he tells, all from his personal life, in such a  heartfelt way to make them even more hysterical, without becoming repetitive or formulaic. He is fortunate to be around hilarious people in his everyday life - namely, his family and his partner Hugh.... Poor Hugh!!! Everything about his essays just screams, "I love being a writer."  "I write for pleasure." "I know my art form, and I do it because I love my art form and it has found me and I will do its bidding."

As I found with two of his book sin the past, Sedaris is more than a writer. He is an artist.  At times inappropriate, at times outlandish, he takes the feelings, moods, and longings of his life, and instead of spilling everything, he hones and crafts and picks apart emotions and he tells tales that inspire laughter and joy, and very little self-pity.  And I just sit there and laugh, and laugh, and laugh out loud.  And then I rifle around with my other books and I try to find that joy again, and often I am disheartened because it is nowhere else to be found.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan was delightfully wordy and verbose, yes.... I got that. Cultivated and courteous, and transporting you to Brighton, yes. Anthony Peardew is a collector of lost objects, and each object has a history and a story.  These are collected with hopes to alleviate his own loss, as well as eventually return these items to their rightful owners. With all of the stifling dusty stuff, I wouldn't say I found the story particularly honed and polished.

If you want an interesting premise with a sparkling setting, and a more entertaining vibe, if you are looking for a writer's writer, someone who will inspire you to look deeper, love more broadly, and laugh more deeply, look no further than Sedaris for gleaming prose. I've said it once and I'll say it again. Sedaris is funnier than you. I'm not trying to make a statement. I just believe in this writer and truly wish the best for him, because he astonishes me and I am a student of the week his work.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Project October: Day Fourteen: Quotation Sunday + Recap

Annabel's baptism

While working in the yard with my kids, I heard Madeleine and Anders talking while playing with snails and ladybugs and shoveling dirt into piles and digging holes (that I would later refill).   I was planting grass seed and suddenly they pipe up...

Madeleine: Frances calls this our "dig site."
Anders: Frances doesn't know everything, just cuz she's older than us.
Me: I don't know everything either, Anders.
Madeleine: Doesn't Daddy know everything?
Me: No...
Madeleine: But, God knows everything. And H e has us in his hands.
Anders: {Picks up a caterpillar} And this is a treasure!!!

They both started laughing and then singing "He's got the whole world in his hands," so, I call that a good morning.  haha. They're legitimately hysterical sometimes. Out of the mouth of babes...

See my other posts in this series. Here are the 6 posts that I wrote from this past week:
Day Eight: Now Streaming on Netflix~ Maniac
Day Nine: Gilmore Girls and What it Can Teach Us About Marriage
Day Ten: Personality Typing With Gretchen Rubin
Day Eleven: Why I Read a Book a Week
Day Twelve: A Good Playlist
Day Thirteen: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

#write31days is a link-up hosted here

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Project October: Day Thirteen: Born a Crime

While we were in San Francisco last month, I finally read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah after hearing so many good things about it.  It seemed like every time I turned around, good reviews were popping up.  I'm so glad I finally read it, because I give it an easy 5 stars.

Why did I like this book and feel I can recommend it?

Microcosm of the Civil Rights Movement

Know thyself is an important proverb, but self-awareness is the hardest lesson to come by.  Looking at the apartheid in South Africa is like looking at a subset of American racism.  To every instance, I could compare the changing of the laws and the mishaps and adventures as applied to a collective African American existence.  However, you can see it with the clarity of an objective situation.

Real stories from a real life

Trevor Noah is honest and never shies away from the truth, even if it makes him vulnerable, salty, or just very, very human.  I loved the tone of this book, which I think is so hard to come by from books coming out right now that have a bit of spice.  He is able to stay grounded with a grown-up perspective throughout his misadventures, and it is certainly springing from an awesome personality and a wonderful childhood with a wonderful mother.

South African American Perspective

Spoiler alert *but not really* Trevor Noah ended up in the U.S. and works as a comedian on Comedy Central late night TV.  I appreciate the overall perspective because it isn't tied down to South Africa.  Coming to the U.S. really rounded out his viewpoint and I enjoyed seeing where his wisdom landed at the time of writing this book.

Humorous Political Commentary

Trevor Noah didn't just study the politics of racism, rather, he lived it.  His daily life as a child (and as he grew up with stories of adolescence and young adulthood) was written inside the bonds of apartheid and a deeply divided country.  Because this situation is so much more recent than the end of slavery in the U.S., it is still and fresh and moving topic to learn about.

Great Storyline

Amidst the drama of family life, I wasn't sure Noah would pull off a satisfying, deeply wrought plotline, but OH BOY HE DID.  I told Stephen Iwasn't sure what to expect from this book, but as I finished it I was like, HOLY SHIT this did not disappoint. In the least.  He has seen some bullcrap and it makes the book shine fantastically.

The next time you are in a bookstore (I love to visit local bookstores whenever I travel- pure bliss) you may want to pick this one up.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Project October: Day Twelve: A Good Playlist

Here is a list of a recent mixed tape I made (I'm joking, it was a spotify playlist).

 I've been having technical difficulties this morning, so I apologize if there is anything wonky going on.  Here is the full list of titles:

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
Joseph: SOS
Ben Folds: Annie Waits
Death Cab for Cutie: A Movie Script Ending
Indigo Girls: Galileo
Portugal the Man: Sea of Air
Nickel Creek: Reasons Why
Elliot Smith: Needle in the Hay
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Moby: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad
Jack Johnson: Flake
Mipso: Hurt So Good
Counting Crows: A Long December

All of the font typos from the other posts this week were accidental and I could not tell blogger to sync up my fonts no matter how I tried. :(  I will try to come and edit to add the html player!

Have a great day, all. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Project October: Day Eleven: Why I Read a Book a Week

October Booklist :)

Writing down the number of books I read is the best practice I have ever adopted.  It really is! Let's just think about that for a minute. ever. ! I mean, I'm trying to find the strongest language I can, because I know there is no way I can emphasize how important it has been for me. Last year, my goal was to read 50 books. To be honest, this was a whole lot of reading for me!  (When I compare myself to others who read upwards of 12 books a month, I'm embarrassed... although I know that when the kids are out of the house someday, I will have enough time to read that many books...!) I have always been a bookworm, but I was a somewhat lazy bookworm. And I never, ever wrote down, or really kept track of how many books I had read.  This year, I am aiming for 55 books.

Like I said, I have always read a lot- I was an English major in college- and I joined book clubs and took elective classes at a Community College post-graduation. I participated in many a church group, where reading spiritual books certainly played an essential role. Reading is my favorite hobby, because you can take the girl out of the English Lit building, but you can't take the English Lit building out of the girl.  I wasn't a graduate of a fancy shmancy institution for nothing! And being an English major is such a big part of who I am, it is probably a bigger deal than I let on, because let's face it: I approach everything in life from the English major perspective. Is there a book I can read about that?  Could I study that in a book club at some point?  Will reading this help me to articulate something better, or will it help me to process, understand, or identify better with some situation or some person better?  Oh, yeah, and there's also that desire to be entertained. ;)

BUT... I never stopped to really keep track or start counting the books I read, until last year.  Honestly the blogosphere, or the community of which, has thoroughly heightened my love for reading. My blogging friends and acquaintances have given me more impetus to complete books and achieve my personal reading goals than anything I’ve experienced in the past! Blogging is kind of crazy-cool like that. :-)~  I think it's the reader/writer connection.  The inspiration I’ve found has certainly bled into my life. I started hunting down books that inspired me, books that I wanted to read for the sake of my depleting (or was it growing?) ignorance, and finding answers to questions that plagued me.  Reading inspired a writing life, as well. As it should so follow.  And that's not something I’m ready to give up any time soon! So, onward, of course!

Why Do I Read a Book a Week?

~Finding out my passions~
Reading has been so good for finding out what I am passionate about. I didn’t know I how thoroughly interested I was in the British royalty and history until I read The Royal We. I started doing more research online to understand the terms and ideas I didn’t previously know about. I didn’t know Einstein’s life would fill me in on the political atmosphere and climate of Germany in the midst of WWII.  I didn’t know I cared thoroughly and was completely fascinated by the culture of our country during the  Civil War until I read Lincoln.   But I have learned so much, and I want to read more about these fascinating, if difficult, subjects.  I feel my mind only expands when I pick up books about other cultures, even those within the four walls of our country. Ha :)

I have been so pleased with how doing more reading has affected my brain and my ability to process information. Also, I feel better equipped to discuss ideas aloud (mostly with Stephen, but also with friends and acquaintances). Perhaps next year, I’ll read even more.  I know it seems that I could be tempted to read JUST to be able to say I read it, and in a sense, you could say that’s the truth. But in actuality, that is too simple. And in a way, it’s simply not the truth. I don’t travel just to say I’ve been somewhere. I travel because I want to branch out, experience someplace new, and grow personally. And the more I travel, the more that happens and the more my mind expands. The same goes with reading. I want to be well-read, personally. Reading keeps my mind sharp, and it is a very good discipline to have.  Some of what I read is fluff,  but it’s never pointless. Much of the modern reading I do fills me in on our culture today. I feel so much less in-the-dark knowing what kind of things are on the NY times bestseller list. I don't want to be trendy. Conversely, I’m not going to be “up on the trends” ten years too late, and I don't want to be! Most important, you never know when some of it may eventually stand the test of time, and our children will be reading some of these popular or currently trendy books, as well.

~Setting an example for my kids~
I want to set an example for my kids, and that’s the final thing I want to say. Having a list and sticking to it is not only something I want to do and something I’m proud of… it is by design: I want to set an example. I want my kids to see them happy to have their nose in a book by E.B White or heck, maybe someday *me*  ???? :) ~  at least some book of a form or fashion, at all times... or at least much of the time!;) It’s a healthy habit, and for me, I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon!  If you are a scholar, an author, or an English major, do you practice this method of counting and keeping track of the books that you read? If you are not one of these things, do you do this too? Tell me I'm not the only one!

Why do I write it down and share it?


Reading 50 books was about decreasing ignorance, yes, but it was also about achieving a personal goal. This year, as I said, I was hoping to exceed last year’s goal of 50 books, although I wasn’t sure by how much. My original list had about 40 books on it.  In September, I looked at my “Books Read This Year” list, and I was really excited to find out that I had already read 37 books. With all of the traveling, I had time to keep plugging along, and I exceeded my Summer Reading List by several books. It looked like I was on track to push myself a little harder, so I decided to up the ante for myself, by finding an awesome Facebook group, to help hold me accountable to read 55 books before the end of the year.

Cheers, to reading more and writing it down!

How about you? Where are you in your journey? Are you a bookworm?  Tell me about it in the comments. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Project October: Day Ten: Personality Typing with Gretchen Rubin

Today I want to discuss and talk about the Four Tendencies theory of personality by Gretchen Rubin.

Gretchen Rubin came up with this theory when she wrote the book The Four Tendencies.

I have taken the quiz and I got the result that of the four tendencies, upholder, questioner, obliger, and rebel, I am a rebel: someone who resists outer and inner expectations.  

This means that when I set a resolution, I may not meet it, because my desire to do my own thing outweighs people pleasing or meeting the expectations of others.

I love the Happier podcast hosted by Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. I highly recommend it. I love to hear sisters gab and laugh about what habits, ideas, and impulses make their lives happier. It inspires and encourages me.

When it comes to personality tests and quizzes, I see the strengths and weaknesses. Any theory of why we do what we do can exist to inspire self-knowledge, which I think is good.  I have also taken quizzes for Myers-Briggs and Enneagram.  

One weakness I see in the personality typing is that we can assign all of our actions to "reasons of personality" and then we don't have a theological reason for what we do.  

My theory of "why we do what we do" is something I came up with recently, and I call it the power cycle vs. the humility cycle.

If a person is a praying person, then the reason they do what they do is for faith.  

If you exist in a power cycle, your feelings, motivations, and actions spring from interactions with others that give you a feeling of power.

If you exist in a humility cycle, your feelings, motivations, and actions spring from faith in God.  Your happiness comes from prayer and submission to God.

What do you think of my theory?  Will you take the quiz I mentioned above at GretchenRubin.com?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Project October: Day Nine: Gilmore Girls and What it Can Teach Us About Marriage

image found via gawker.com

Let's be honest; with "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix for free right now, we've all been in a little bubble- watching those two beautiful ladies as they go through the ups and downs of Chilton, Yale, and Friday night dinners, in the lovely home of Richard and Emily.  We all collectively have a love-hate relationship with Luke and Dean, and our hearts pitter patter whenever Lorelai walks in the room.

It goes without saying that Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are amazing actresses, but I have watched, granted for the first time (ever!) for me, I have been struck by just how amazing the writing really is!    Seriously, I think it could do another run for some several years, although I'm stopping with Season 5. But, you guys? The writing really is that good. And seriously, this show has taught me so much about marriage, and how to do it, and how not to do it.  Lorelai's beauty is a blessing in disguise. And watching Lorelai's parents, Emily and Richard, has been particularly eye-opening in regard to the what-not-to-do in a marriage. It has taught me more about marriage, on so many levels.

1. All Manner of Ridiculousness Can Be Forgiven.
It is clear from Lorelai's actions that she does not really look up to her parents. She makes several references, particularly in early season 4, that definitely indicate that she does not respect them as parents, or role models, and she sees more tension than good when she looks at their marriage to each other.  This is incredibly sad, and in fact one of the things I like the least about her character.  (Grow up Lorelai! Respect your parents! Geez louise!).

When Emily and Richard's marriage crumbles in the fourth season,  though, it is not surprising; Although to me, it does seems surface on so many levels. Emily is clearly an aloof mother, oftentimes unkind, and she becomes a shopaholic when Richard starts spending too much time on work and on business trips.  From the Yale vs. Harvard football game episode, it seems that Richard and Emily have become collectively a little too fond of the drinking, judging from the number of bloody marys and shots that they both drink.  It is a not a little disturbing to watch them making bad decisions, and it is no wonder that their marriage eventually ends up on the rocks (pardon the pun).  But in actuality, they have some serious strikes against them.

The main reason they start fighting, and Emily goes on a wild shopping spree, is because she finds out that Richard has been having yearly lunch dates with his old girlfriend from college, Pennilyn Lott. Although he swears that nothing happened between them, Emily's trust in Richard is shattered.

But it is not old friends that truly came between them. The eventual major blow that causes them to separate is that Emily finds a letter written from Richard's mother to Richard, dated the day of their wedding, and in it, his mother begs him not to marry Emily.  She claims that Emily will not be good for him. Despite all of Emily's problems, this is quite a sad plot twist, and in many ways, her not feeling accepted by Richard's mother deeply affects her core.

She ends up going on a date with another man, Simon, and Richard is left to live out in the Pool House. It is quite a sad series of episodes as we watch their marriage crumbling and the fights between them becoming more and more serious, and more and more bitter. One wonders if they will get back together at all.

*SPOILER* Yes, they do get back together. Ironically, a fender bender brings them back together, they reunite, and makes plans for a vow-renewal ceremony. Richard has to finally fight for Emily, when he sees Simon talking to Emily. He claims again that nothing happened with Pennilyn Lott, and she claims- rightly- that nothing happened with Simon. The truth that they are both remaining faithful through hard times causes their eventual reunion.

2. People Should Stand Up For the Truth
My question about the situation is: Why didn't Richard ever really stand up against the separation, or the claims that he was cheating on her, or was never really in love with Emily in the first place? This seems like a hole in the plot, or a flaw in his character, I'm not sure (I haven't decided) which. He seems to accept his fate-  to live in the pool house- almost completely passively, after years of  standing by his wife. He never takes serious issue with the idea that his mother disliked Emily. He grows a mustache,  yes, but granted, that seems to be the only serious outward protest or acknowledgement of the strange and sad situation going on between them.

He should have stood up to her wild claims that he never loved her. However, while discussing this issue together, my husband pointed out, that it shows that he truly loves her, because he didn't listen to what his mother said. He married her and loved her, despite what his mother thought of Emily. From Richard, we learn how to do nothing until your wife comes around... and maybe that's a good thing, even though it strikes me as very wrong and actually somewhat ridiculous.

3. No Man is an Island
Richard and Emily renew their vows with a ceremony and a second honeymoon. The sadness is brought back to a very happy reunion, and the only sad twist of fate is that Christopher tries to fight one last time to get Lorelai back at the ceremony for Richard and Emily.  Is he so foolish to think that after all this time, she actually will believe him this time? And is he even that sincere- if it took Emily practically giving him a shove in the "right" direction?

Lorelai proves one last thing about marriage.  She proves that no man is an island, despite her own best wishes. Throughout the first four or five seasons, she meets Luke for unofficial dates, constantly eating the food at his diner, developing a relationship with him- if not for love, then merely out of habit. They do eventually have a more serious relationship, but it would be mere flattery to say that they didn't actually have an "intimate" relationship - for all intents and purposes- all along.

What can learn and how can we takeaway marriage do's and don'ts by watching Richard and Emily?  And even more importantly, what can we learn from a woman like Lorelai, who is so fiercely independent that she runs from every serious attempt at marriage that may come her way? What do you think?

Maybe  we should bring this show back- this time as the "Gilmore Guys"? (Ha, ha). More of a focus on Luke and Dean and all of their many character flaws? The men in our culture today could learn a something from all of their mistakes. Or Luke and Lorelai's someday proverbial son, whoever-he-is?  I'm just wondering what I'm going to do when I'm done watching this on Netflix?!.... dun dun dun....!

What do you think about Gilmore Girls and What it Can Teach Us About Marriage?
*season 4, episode 9

This post originally appeared on my blog  December 20, 2014

Monday, October 8, 2018

Project October: Day Eight: Now Streaming on Netflix~ Maniac

In an effort to give expression to my thoughts on the show Maniac, now streaming on Netflix, I have decided to describe the pros and cons of this show (Without giving spoilers!).


Unlike many other shows, this series starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone does NOT include the typical typecast actors/ actresses with a penchant for the funny but obnoxiously vacant (read: not funny/ over-the-top narcissism).  This type of person and actor is nowhere to be found in either character study or actor/actress vibe.  Refreshing!  Jonah Hill is the almost unrecognizably skinny former star of SNL, and you see a depth of character in him rarely found in young(ish) male actors.  His depth of humor is also fantastic, and the nuanced portrayal of a man suffering schizophrenia is compelling and ultimately heartwarming.  It's also a bit creepy without being over the top.  Emma Stone is no man-eater: at first blush she appears the femme fatale, but proves the charm-your-socks off in this show that you have hoped to expect from her Oscar-winning performance in La-La Land.


At times funny, at times intriguing, the downfall of this show is two-fold.  Pacing is slow, and ultimately, I believe it feels imitative.  While shows like  Stranger Things and innovative movies with excellent screenplays (Think: Almost Famous or classic vibes of Planet of the Apes) ooze originality, at times this feels like a positive mirror-image of scenes from Stranger Things. What if the children who were tested in a lab and abused by their superiors were actually willing grown-ups?  Let's throw some high tech and throw-back tech in there for nostalgia's sake.

In consummation, this show is redeemed by the fascinating premise.  Ultimately, I liked this show.  I looked forward to watching an episode every night with Stephen, and I was very grateful for a recommendation to give this a shot. I'm glad I did.  It warmed the cockles of my heart. 

B for being slightly unoriginal


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Project October: Day Seven: Quotation Sunday + Recap

To take a break for Sundays during the month of October, I am going to post a funny, interesting, or inspiring quote from someone famous, my kids, or a book I'm reading. (ETC)

Here is the quote for today.

farm country// from wikimedia commons
All quotations from Wendell Berry's book What Are People For?

"In healing the scattered members come together."

"What a trial, in fact, that is for us, and how guilty it roves us: we think it ordinary to spend twelve or sixteen or twenty years of a person's life and many thousands of public dollars on 'education'- and not a dime or a thought on character."

Quoting Edward Abbey:
"'The essays in Down the River are meant to serve as antidotes to despair. Despair leads to boredom, electronic games, computer hacking, poetry and other bad habits.'"

“True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.” 

It goes without saying, and yet I cannot say it enough times: Wendell Berry is a fine wordsmith indeed.

See my other posts in this series. Here are the 6 posts that I wrote, from this past week:

Day 6: Church Scandal and Cultural Awareness
Day 5: Dark Themes in Contemporary Lit
Day 4: Book Review: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Day 3: Funny and Thoughtful TV: The Good Place
Day 2: Finding Vulnerability in Podcast Form
Day 1: A Little Bit About Me

#write31days is a link-up hosted here

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Project October: Day Six: Church Scandal and Theological Awareness

With the Kavanaugh hearings and all that is coming out of the church, I think I can safely say it is ok to be disturbed by the news cycle and the state of my own faith, the Catholic church.  As much as our current political climate is a circus show with BS from extreme views on both sides and mostly bottlenecking the news, I'm focusing now on the state of the Church rather than the state of our country.

I have felt a pretty substantial heartbreak over the recent news involving the McCarrick scandal and the divisive actions of various bishops.  The thing that really hurts my heart is knowing that people who have Jesus and his love are intentionally in conflict in such a way as to only cause more pain and heartbreak. This should not be. It makes me sad. :(

I have had many conversations with friends about these issues.  My opinion is that it is good to be aware, but it is not good to dwell on it.  To continue focus on all that is right takes discipline, and I'm up for that challenge. I know that my job right now is to pray a daily rosary, offer up my suffering for division and suffering in the church, and do penance (such as fast from a rosary treat, and instead pray).

My conviction at this time is to stay with the Church. Focus on her beauty. Don't blame anyone in particular.  I can't throw shame at leaders that I don't know personally.  The problems in the Church are deep. They are philosophical (coming from philosophers), they are theological (coming from theologians), and they are cultural (coming from American culture.)

It is ok to be heartbroken.

It is good to offer up our suffering.

It is redemptive to pray for the brokenness; a holy rosary gives us spiritual armor.

The world looks at our country and our faith as an example. When we let them down with a poor example, the conscience of the ignorant is harmed.

When we do what is right, we will deserve respect.

"Innocent men may be tainted by false accusation, or guilty men may be left to repeat the sins of the past."
-Cardinal Dinardo

Should we solve injustice with injustice?

What do you think?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Project October: Day Five: Dark Themes in Contemporary Lit

Over the past year, I have found something interesting about myself. I actually like dark themes sometimes. Today I am going to compare and contrast two books I have read recently that fall into less scary/spooky category, but more dark and thrilling.  And I hope you'll come along on the ride!

At first reading about a serial killer  in a lovely hardbound copy, and being strangely enchanted a few years ago, I was like, "I'm a freak. What is my problem?" But then I started to think maybe there is something in human nature that sorta likes to be freaked out.

I think it can be entertaining and humbling in a "You're not as safe as you think," kind of way.  So much of life is like a Child's Encyclopedia.  Sanitized nonfiction, sanitized illustration.

I found my way to dark themes in contemporary lit in a roundabout fashion.  To be honest, it came about in 2008 or so when I discovered Neil Gaiman.  My interest in creepy escalated at 48 hours was rounded out by my love for the scary genius of Coraline *book and movie* muah ha ha.. and this is just the radio show format, the exact same content as the show.*

Two books I have read recently popped into my mind as I was thinking about the issue of dark themes.

“She talked like a woman who knew more books than people.” 
― Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood

The first one is The Hazel Wood.  I would describe this book as a twisted fairytale with elements of Alice in Wonderland, The Little Princess, and The Golden Compass.  (I have not read the last book myself).

Befriending animals and having unbirthday tea parties with half-crazy people is charming.  Murdering people in order to enter the Hinterland is unredemptively dark and creepy in an unappetizing way.  I could get on board if there was redemption for the characters in some way, but overall, the fantastical elements were for show and gore won the day. And the way.  Sad :(

I came to We Have Always Lived in the Castle after falling deeply in love with a book some may have heard of, Rebecca.  Reading Castle, I felt enjoyment of each turn of phrase, but as a whole I don't think I love dit. I adored Rebecca and I can say it is a fail-safe book full of criminal logic, creepy themes, and plot twists galore. I couldn't help comparing what seemed showy literature with a beloved classic that seemed more... well, beloved to me.  I was never gripped by the Castle, and so it fell flat for me.

Despite my love for some crazily creepy entertainment in a certain genre, what I find myself fascinated by isn't creepy books, creepy shows, or even creepy podcasts. What I find creepy is creepy people.  If you tell the truth about them in a way that intrigues me without disgusting me... well, tell me more. :)  If Paul Bunyan were a spooky story, it might be worth its salt. But spooky is cute, and I don't need any more cute.

*The podcast freaks me out, but I never feel unsafe.  I have never had nightmares or terrors from listening.  I think the way they deal with content is suspenseful, without being horrific, disgusting, etc.

“On the moon we wore feathers in our hair, and rubies on our hands. On the moon we had gold spoons.” 
― Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Project October: Day Four: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (Book Review)

Are you looking for a very short novel to read, that will take you to Africa, where you will learn about the issues and trials facing a people group lacking basic necessities like clothing and running water?

Look no further, for I have a great recommendation for you.  Join me as we uncover what's to love about this NY times bestselling novella.

Learn About Sudan and Ethiopia

I get so frustrated when I hear the media using the word, "conflict." This is a euphemism for war, and war, my friends, is not pretty.  We all have had a taste of the spiritual warfare over our souls.  Unfortunately, many people live in a poverty of spirit that indeed incorporates de facto war in their day to day lives. Instead of sticking head in sand or mud, try making your heart accessible to the physical reality portrayed this book.

Heartstrings tugged by the calamities facing large people groups

 If you hope your heart will break for real issues such as these, you are not in for a treat by listening to candy-coated news media coverage of such things. You will instead get your heart ripped open for a cause you didn't know you needed to know about. Perhaps you are looking for a place to give your next nickel.  This book is worth reading if so.

Easy, entertaining read that reaches across almost all ages

This is a story of a little boy who overcomes hurdles as he matures.  I read it in one night.  I found it impactful all the way through.  I think many in the Western world may gloss over it because it's another book in a string of books in the same vein. I can honestly say this is not a run-of-the-mill choice when it comes to book-choices.

Fantastic Writing

Linda Sue Park is famous for her work in the children's publishing industry.  This book truly knows no one particular age audience.  Anyone could pick it up and glean an honest, interesting story from it, because it is gripping and so well written.

True Story

I don't know what else to say, except I'm profoundly grateful that I picked it up and read this true story of African culture.  I was fascinated to see how this children's author would reach across typical genres, but I am glad to say I found myself pleasantly surprised.  I loved it!

I grabbed this at my local bookseller, and caring about these issues was just as simple as that.  :)

A +

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Project October: Day Three: Funny and Thoughtful TV {The Good Place}

Recently I have watched a few tv shows that deal with the issue of the afterlife.

TBH, I am profoundly intrigued by these issues. Recently, I decided to binge watch Forever and The Good Place. As the world knows I freaking love Fred Armisen, and I think the crowning achievement of Forever, other than awesome music, was seeing someone who never gets angry actually getting a little upset. Armisen is a calm, funny presence. When you see him get upset, his acting is at its peak, and I think this is because it is coming from someone who rarely actually gets mad like this. Hilarious to Watch -- it is good stuff. :)

In this post, I will mostly be talking about the show The Good Place. I decided to rewatch the first season, in an effort to describe what it is I like about this show.

8 reasons why I love this show:


1) it's deep

This question deals with the problem of Heaven and Hell. It culminates in several visits to the Medium place, where cocaine and dirty minds reign supreme. I find it hilarious to see how the show tries to overcome the blasé aspects of life that lead to tired, predictable story lines found in so many other popular shows of our era!

2) it's funny

Somehow, the script-writers are able to keep this show light-hearted, despite the heavy subject material. Eleanor Shellstrop so very much wants to be good, but she struggles with selfishness, a bad past, and a history of wounds from very poor parenting. Her acting sparkles, and she is among a tour-de-force cast of hilarious characters.

3) it's intriguing

I never know how or where the writers will take the screen-play from week to week (or episode to episode).  I am rooting for demons and the other Non-humans who must daily interact with the human souls they are trying to "torture."


4) it's philosophical

now, how is "philosophical' different from deep? haha.  In this show, moral philosophers are regularly referenced, and Chidi, the moral philosopher and professor is constantly commenting on the goals of human morality and the purpose and meaning of life. They also explore in this show the difference between physical torture and something much worse-- emotional and psychological torture among true friends.

5) it's complicated

without giving away the plot, the characters must figure out how to collaborate with a friendly demon .... even though they know they basically can't trust him. They have to solve the problem of how to win him to their side, and appeal to his basic tendencies to be a real, actual human.

6) it's interesting

how is "interesting" (DUH) different from "complicated"?  I want to keep watching. I'm rooting for the robots, the dum-dums, and the idiots, and I find myself constantly wondering, "WHY am I rooting for this person/ this relationship." I think it is because so many elements- such as plot, character development, and creative characters- keep my interest.


7) it's fair

there is no one physical type that is praised in this show.  I got so used to the diversity in the show, that when I saw an ad for Will and Grace I was like, "What is the DEAL? What do all of these white people think they're doing?!" haha

8) it's awesome

the whole package just makes me really happy!  the profundity and creativity make me want to keep watching.  While other shows try to make spin-offs, ultimately the deeper questions of life strung together with very good acting keep me watching (and loving!) this show The Good Place.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Project October: Day Two: Finding Vulnerability in Podcast Form

Hi I'm Tacy, and I have a problem with ... listening to too many podcasts.  ☺️

Yes, it is true. I am truly addicted to inspiration, entertainment, distraction, and information, and that in podcast form.

I listen to them while I clean. I sometimes listen while I drive.  I listen to wind down at the end of a long, busy day full of human interaction.  I can climb into an introvert's cave, and with my earbuds in,  I can get lost.

Now don't get me wrong. My addiction has a dark side. Don't they all?  Time suck, at times envy of others with their own podcast, or the person interviewed,  and finally, probably issues with when to hide and when to interact with other human beings.

But all of that being said, I have grown and I may even say matured in some ways thanks to podcasts.

For one thing, the distraction piece can be positive, if it means I get something done.  Maybe I will sweep crunchy, drying leaves off the back porch, when I didn't want to do it. Maybe I will even run a mundane errand like grocery shopping for that last pack of tomatoes- with a better attitude- if it means I can listen to a podcast I enjoy.

I also believe in the healing power of vulnerability, and that's something I'll not just touch on, but also I think it is worth going into detail about.

One of my favorite podcasts is Armchair Expert Pod.  In it, the host talks about many things, among them his becoming sober through involvement in AA.  The host sets the example, and with each guest, he invites them to open up in imitation.  They almost always accept the invitation.  And truly, it is a lovely thing.

The thing about vulnerability is that it has immense power.

It creates community.
It solves the issue of gossip.
It is healing.
It creates an environment of honesty, rather than enmity.
It cultivates a spirit of unity, rather than hostility.

If you are already in a good community, it is possible you are rolling your eyes right now. I am stating  the obvious. But for many, Godliness is a competition and that community has not evolved in this way-- yet.  But in a beautifully simple equation, honesty creates the establishment of unity and oneness.

For others, competition, lies, and jealousy remain at the root of their interaction with others.

If honest, a person is fearful that it may cost them their reputation.

One reason why I love Armchair Expert is because it reminds me of someone else I love. Brennan Manning.  After years of therapy and involvement in AA, Manning started a club of men called "The Notorious Sinners." He talks about it in his book that I have read.  I have no doubt many people pitied him while he was still alive, but perhaps this came with a lack of boundaries, particularly in the lives of these critics? I'm not sue, I don't know. :)

But I think the world needs more "notorious sinners" societies.  Why? Main reason being: Jesus loves these people. He didn't lust after the prostitute. He embraced and accepted her.  He didn't condemn the tax collectors. He condemned the greedy Pharisees for saying one thing, but doing another thing with their hearts.

"Beloved, let us not love with words and deeds, but with action and in truth."

Podcasts can be a source of healing.  Perhaps among those who are competing in this world, this truth will be a balm of healing for hearts.  I know I have encountered such an experience through my own exploration into the word of podcasts. And for that, I am truly grateful and thankful.

And I feel so much better about coming clean. :)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Project October: Day One: A Little Bit About Me

Welcome to the Project October: 31 days of caffeination!

I'm glad you're here.

A little bit about me.

My name is Tacy.  It is my real name but my parents always told me "It comes from Anastasia." This name means one who will rise again. 

I was named after a nun who wrote a note to encourage my parents in their marriage when my mother was pregnant with me.

I converted to Catholicism the very same year as my husband Easter, 2011. I know for a fact that St. Therese prayed me into the church after I read her autobiography. Shout out, today is her feast day.

As for my personality, do you all remember the hashtag from a few years ago, #describeyourselfin3fictionalcharacters ?  It was a fun game on social media and I partook!

... This was mine.

with a little bit of Eleanor Shellstrop thrown in....

I'm an INFP, rebel, enneagram 7. 

That's an enthusiastic, idealistic introvert with a tendency to do my own thing.


I'm a homeschooling mama to 6, two of which aren't quite old enough for school yet. :)~

I love to laugh, I love to talk, and I love to philosophize, and that's probably enough about me, so let's get to it.  If you're also a passionate coffee drinker and caffeine enthusiast, I think you're going to enjoy this.

Here are some ideas of what is to come over the next 31 days.

I will kick it off by talking about all of the following, in a general culture/cultural awareness type way.  Then, I will get more deeply into books and around the middle of October I will do a lot of book reviews.  Around the post-middle of the month, I will go into family and how the bookish culture informs parenting, homeschooling, and homemaking in general.  And finally, I will wrap it up with an informed look at politics in the public sphere through the lens of faith and culture. I'm excited. Thanks for joining me!  This should be a fun job.

Sooooo, come right back!!! :)