Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Art of Parenting an Adult

Daddy says parenting is an art not a science. I agree, just from being a kid once myself and now working with children. It is so difficult to know just what to say, how to say it, and what to do with kids. You want them to explore who they are, learn new things, and to be independent and responsible. But, unfortunately, all children are different, their needs are different, and the environment they are growing up in is different. There isn't an ultimate how-to guide to raising perfect kids. So all a parent can do is their best.

A couple weeks ago I had a big argument with Dad. It was ugly and we both said a lot of hurtful things. But there was one thing in particular that he said that really made me stop and think. He said, "I made the mistake of thinking if I raised you and your brother like adults, you would be adults by now." The reason this made me reflect so much was because I don't think my parents raised us like adults at all! I will say they spoke to us like adults, there wasn't a lot of goo goo ga ga that I can remember. Whenever genitals came up in conversation, they used the real words, but I don't think they treated us like adults.

I've never had chores. Chores are meant to teach kids responsibility, handwork, one's role in the family. I never had chores and I never really learned these lessons. I never had to keep a clean room, I never had to make my bed, I never had to do the dishes or take out the trash, nothing. So when I consider my parent's assessment of my brother and I being lazy, part of me wants to say, "duh." All my friends had to do things, but we never did.

I never had to stick with any activity. If I wanted to dance, I could. When I wanted to quit, I just had to finish the year, then I didn't have to do it anymore. I didn't have to explain my reasoning or choose an alternative activity, if I didn't want to, I didn't have to. I realize it may not be wise to force children to stick with a sport or instrument, but it isn't helpful to create the expectation that when things become difficult or no longer fun, you can just walk away. Adults have to do things they don't want to do all the time. Plenty of people don't like their jobs, but they get up and go to work everyday because it is expected of them. Making a kid continue an activity, can help them understand and accept this fate as an adult.

My parents also never taught us good social skills, now my brother and I have difficulty relating with others and spend most of our weekends at home. I have many memories of coming home complaining about someone at school and Mom saying things to me like, "you don't need them" and "don't be friends with people who annoy you." For much of my life, people have been tools of survival, not fellow creatures in this world trying to survive and thrive. I never learned how to value other people and their troubles; instead, it is all about me and what someone can give me. Similarly, I was taught all men are drunk, drug addicted, violent, rapists. Thanks Lifetime Movie Network. I was never taught the values of honesty and emotional connections. Men can't be trusted and women are all annoying. As a result, I'm 24, alone, and fearful of the intentions of others.

Finally, Keith and I have spent time talking about how they weren't honest with us, therefore we aren't honest with them until the pot has boiled over. I used to think, Mom and I had very honest and open conversations, but as I reflect on my teenage years, the only things I spoke to her about were things concerning other people. I never told her about my struggles, unless I'd already solved the problem myself. When I sought her advice, she usually told me to throw people away. I never talked to Dad about things unless they were accomplishments, but never struggles. Mom and Dad never showed us how to deal with challenges, they didn't create an open environment where it was okay to struggle. Keith has said, he asked Dad about certain things in his past and Dad would say, "I'll tell you when you're older." This isn't something you say to someone who you are trying to "treat like an adult." As my brother and I have entered into adulthood, we are learning new things about how our family isn't perfect. We realized, we don't know anything about our parents or their failures. The problem with this is we think they're perfect, therefore we have to be perfect. But we aren't perfect, but we can't tell them we are struggling until it's too late.

Since I've spent all this time bashing the art of parenting in my own life, I want to say one of the greatest things my parents taught me, the value of family. They did create a space where we learned to value our extended family. Mom made a point to take my brother and I to see my grandparents about once per week as children. As a result, we have a very close relationship with our maternal grandparents. While my grandfather was in his final years with Alzheimer's disease, I was with him most days. I call my grandmother just to say hi, and go to see her when she is sick. They also built a home where we were comfortable being, although we were never allowed to have friends over. Family movie night and Sunday breakfast have always been important to Mom and Dad.

I had a lovely childhood, as I can remember. But I struggle now, as an adult, dealing with Dad thinking I'm lazy, shallow, and stupid since he raised me to be lazy, shallow, and stupid. But how long can one blame the failures of their parents on their lack of positive character qualities and values? Probably not much longer. I know the problems, I know the root of the problems, it is now my responsibility to solve them. But how?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Observations

He is risen! I hope you all had a very blessed Lent and a terrific Easter Sunday.

While at Mass this morning I was inspired to write a post about Chreasters. For those of you who do not know what that is, you are probably one of them. A Chreaster is a person who only goes to church on Christmas and Easter. I go to Mass first thing in the morning most weeks and there are usually about 200 people there. Today, it was more like 2, 000. There were so many people, I had to stand in the back of the church throughout the celebration.

A good Christian would say, "That's wonderful, I'm so glad so many of our brothers and sisters made it to church to celebrate our Lord. I hope they feel inspired to return each week." I am not a good Christian, I try to be, but I'm not there yet. My thought was, "I come to church week in, week out; holy day of obligation in, holy day of obligation out; I tithe 10%; I volunteer with the kids in religious education, and I have to stand in the back of the church!" This feeling lasted much longer than it should have. Once we got to the homily, I started to loosen up a bit.

Catholicism isn't about how many times you receive your sacraments, it isn't about how much time you spend volunteering, and it certainly is not about how much money you give. Catholicism is about family, it is about connecting with our brothers and sisters in Christ. By the end of Mass, I felt so pleased to see so many young families and young couples celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with me over a shared meal of His body and blood. It is a privilege to be Catholic that so many don't understand. I am thankful for the opportunity to share in the Divine Life by being united to 2, 000 people in my home church and the 1.2 billion others around the world.

I do want to say one thing to Chreasters, we would like to see you more often. We break this bread at least once per week, more like everyday in most places. Come celebrate and share a meal with us more often! Next week is a fun feast, you should definitely join the party.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Believe in Tomorrow

I saw a picture on Pinterest once with a quote that said, "to have a garden is to believe in tomorrow." I love this quote because it communicates the hope of another day. So often we get sucked into the drab of today, the clouds and cold rains of this season (figuratively and literally) keep us from having confidence in what is to come. But, I think planting a garden and experiencing nature, can help all of us draw into a greater hope for what the future holds and an appreciation for the beauty around us.

We have all heard the phrase "stop and smell the roses." But how many of us actually do it. Taking a walk around a preserve can be so relaxing and bring so much comfort to my heart. It is such a joy to have the opportunity to do that in one's own backyard. Taking the time to plant and foster a garden can help you live each day in the present and to grow in love for the world around you. We live in our concrete jungles, islands of artificial life and structures. The beauty of nature can help us develop a greater admiration for the simpler things in life.

I'm not very good at gardening. In fact the only things I have successfully grown are lettuce and carrots. But let me tell you, they were the sweetest, most delicious carrots and lettuce I've ever had. That's the other thing about gardening, the food is infinitely better than whatever you can get at the grocery store. Of course, part of the reason it is so sweet is because you grew it yourself, fostering the little life from seed. But it is also made without the use of all the artificial gunk that will inevitably give you cancer. Food grown on big farms isn't meant to taste good, it is meant to look good and taste good enough to get you to buy more. Have you ever had a real strawberry, a real, fresh, homegrown strawberry? They taste like jam! So sweet and watery, I'm getting hungry just thinking about them. But the stuff they have at grocery stores, is nothing like that. This comes from a variety of reasons, partially that they probably aren't in season. But growing your own food can do amazing things for your mind and body.

I hope during this spring season you are working on your garden and are enjoying your time outside. If you are growing food, don't forget to share with your neighbors, especially those that do not like to eat their vegetables!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Hate Running

I want to be a fit chick, but I hate to run. Is it a prerequisite for all fit chicks to be marathon running, yogis? I have the yoga thing, but the running is such a drag! I've always wished I were a runner, runners have such great legs. I have...had dancers legs. They're fine but they tend to be a bit more bulky and less lean. I'd like to have lean, strong legs. So I've decided to try running. A couple people at work are runners and they swear by it! They love it, and run several days a week, one runs everyday. After talking with one of them, he said the running isn't so much fun but the feeling afterward is what you run for. The high you get from all that endorphin rich blood in the brain, I guess is worth the torture. He is pushing me to do a 5k in a couple weeks, but I'm not ready. I can't run 3 straight miles. I can run 1 straight mile, which I am very proud of. I found this running article that said if you followed their plan for 30 days you would fall in love with running after two weeks. I made it the two weeks--I still hate running. I am surprised by my improvements though. On my first day I was able to run .6 miles, by day seven I was able to run a full mile. I say run, I mean a REALLY slow jog, like turtles on beach slow. Slow and steady wins the race right? I looked at the 5k times from last year for the race my co-worker recommended, and people were finishing them in less than 30 minutes. It takes me 12 minutes to do one mile! I don't yet have my confidence, and I haven't been running in a few days. I'm calling it the weather, but I think it's more my loathing attitude toward the activity.

I guess sometimes you gotta do what you don't wanna do, right?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Christian Yogi

For the past year or so I have been on a journey of health and fitness. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized I was not treating my body with the level of respect it deserves, being a masterpiece of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit, and worth the Son's death on a cross. So I began watching what I eat and going to the gym regularly. I have definitely seen some improvements, and I think at the end of time, when I have to give my accounting for what I have done with God's resources, I hope he finds me a good steward of my body. But this post isn't really about my entire fitness story, it is about a relatively new aspect of my fitness journey: yoga. I know you are probably thinking, "Can Catholics do yoga?" Well I haven't read anything that says no, I've checked the Scriptures, Catechism, and Vatican writings. I haven't found anything that says a Catholic cannot do yoga. What I have found is a quote from Pope Francis saying that yoga, among other things, does not lead us to God. My question for that statement is, does my morning commute lead me to God?

It is my opinion, that you get what you put into things. If I spend my morning commute praying a Rosary, contemplating that days readings, or doing an examination of conscience, then I have just baptized my morning commute. I've turned it from something dead and uneventful, and turned it into a spiritual expression and devotion to God. In the same way, yoga practiced without Christ in one's heart, is a waste of an hour. I use the word baptize purposefully. We are all dead to sin before we are baptized. But by God's grace we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then are able to draw into deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven. Does that mean we were not touched by God before we were baptized? No, all things in existence only exist because God allows it to. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, EVERYTHING is touched by God. We just have to find him.

That is a Catholic practice, finding God in all people and circumstances. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and the Church teaches the way we do that is by seeing that our neighbor is also made in the image of God. The Church is against the death penalty no matter how heinous the crime, because who are we to deny someone the opportunity of repentance and reconciliation? Because of this, I baptize my yoga practice. Where Buddhist yogis use "om" as a mantra, being the sound that started the universe, I have "Jesus, I trust in you," the words of St. Faustina. Where Hindu yogis meditate to clear their mind, I meditate to drill down on the great m
ysteries of our faith like the incarnation.

I never want to avoid something because someone says it isn't from God, I'd rather find God in it. I love Harry Potter, sorcery is strongly against all Christian teachings. Yet I watch it because I find my Lord in a young man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his friends. Rather than locking ourselves in our beautiful stained-glass towers, maybe we should see what other people are doing and show them how Christ has been trying to touch them through it. God is everywhere, including yoga, we just have to find him.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yoga: Gym vs. Studio

For about a month now, I have been going to yoga several times per week at my local yoga studio.  I love it! It has done amazing things for my mind and body. I think yoga is such a beautiful practice and experience in self-aceptance. When I first started yoga, I was surprised to see it was like a real workout. Many believe yoga to be just a bunch of stretching, but in the studio, my heart gets pumping, I sweat, and I can feel my muscles working. One of the guys at work says yoga is for girls, men shouldn't do yoga. After the hot yoga class I took, I think yoga is for the strong; and girls are strong. There have always been men in the classes I have taken. The sweat and grunt their way through the difficult poses and work very hard. I certainly admire their commitment to a craft that silly people, like the guy I work with, think is emasculating. Studio yoga can be used as a substitute for the gym. Depending on the class, you can experience: cardio, ab workouts, strength training, and increased flexibility. Not to mention the flood of endorphins you get in the brain after a good workout. My favorite part about the studio yoga is the attention to detail in the atmosphere: electronic candles, smooth music, steam and humidity to achieve a detoxify sweat. Plus the amazing cool washcloths with essential oils to calm us while in corpse pose after a killer workout.

On Sunday, I went to a yoga class, with different friend from work, at her gym. It was nice to get together and do something fun outside of the office. For this class, we were in a gym that definitely serves many purposes. The first thing I noticed was that we wore shoes studio. There are no shoes allowed on the yoga floor in a studio, but because this room served multiple functions, we took our shoes off once we set up our mats. There were punching bags in the way of the side mirrors; this wasn't a huge deal, but they did get in the way of me checking my form. The music was really cool, it reminded my of History's Vikings. I don't know the types of instruments used, but I certainly enjoyed it. Yoga uses the Sanskrit language, which I am not fluent in--duh. So when I do yoga at home, I tend to choose yoga videos or apps that use the English translation of the poses. Example: cat-cow or Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, downward dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, corpse pose or Savasana. Studio yoga uses both the Sanskrit and the English translations while the gym class pretty much only used the English. I liked this a little better because I didn't have to constantly be looking around or at the instructor about what we were doing. In studio yoga, the teacher demonstrates some moves but also does a lot of walking around to offer "hands-on assist." I love this hands-on approach because I want to make sure I have the right form in order to reduce injury and expand my practice. Gym yoga didn't do that, the instructor was at the front of the class exclusively, going through the motions with us. It isn't my preference, but I know a lot of people would really like that. The type of yoga was similar to a yin yoga in that you get into poses and you stay for awhile, there wasn't a lot of 1 movement to 1 breath like in more intense yoga practices. It wasn't exactly yin yoga either, we weren't in each pose for like 3 minutes. I would say this yoga experience wasn't not a workout substitute, it was a nice add on to whatever else you are doing on your fitness journey. My final thought was on the demographics of the class. I'm sure this is dependent about the time of day and what day it was, but there was only one man there, that I think was gay. All the rest were women, young women. I would say all of us were between our 20s-30s. At studio yoga, there are only ladies and young ladies, middle aged ladies, young men, and middle aged men. I've never seen old men at yoga, I think the oldest I've seen was probably in his 50s. The point is, I can see where the guy at work gets the idea of yoga being for girls, if he only sees people doing yoga at the gym.

I think both experiences are fine. Like with anything in life, you need to know what your goals and abilities are. Obviously, it is easier to get to yoga if you are already at the gym. It is cheaper to go to yoga if you already have a gym membership. That's actually a really important point to make: studio yoga is not cheap. You are defiantly paying for all the cool perks like cool washcloths with essential oils, hairspray in the bathroom, and a fireplace in the waiting area. I would recommend if you are new to yoga, to check out your gym's classes and eventually move on to studio yoga, if you would like to really expand a yoga practice. 

I hope you enjoyed this post, in the comments below let me know your thoughts on the different types of yoga you have experienced. Have a sparkly day!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

If I Ran the World

When I had writers block and I took to Pinterest to find some inspiration, I stumbled upon a lovely question: What would you do if you ran the world? I love this question! So here are 5 things that came to mind:

  1. Uplift: My primary goal as leader of the world would be to lift all people to higher levels in all positive aspects of life. That means lifting people out of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, mental illness, and educational disadvantages. I’m sure this is at least one of the goals of all world leaders, yet they are all unsuccessful in solving all the world’s problems. I think this is sometimes where things go awry for those of us being led by those leaders. One cannot make everyone happy all the time. For example, taxes must be raised in order to provide basic human rights like health care. The people who are now receiving amazing affordable care are delighted they now have access to well trained medical professionals, but the people who have to pay more in taxes are displeased because they could use that money for their families needs. I guess having the goal of lifting ALL people is ambitious and impossible. There will always be hunger in the world, there will always be a homelessness in the world, there will always be limited access to drinking water in the world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight to solve these problems. It means we should work hard, pray harder, and enjoy the merits of the corporal works of mercy.
  2. Teacher and Student: At a bible study, I once heard that at all points in our lives, we are both student and teacher. If I ran the world I would want have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of other people, cultures, the arts, the sciences, and all the things this glorious universe has to offer. I would also like to lead by example and share my knowledge and experience with those who may benefit from it. I would want to be the type of teacher that talks the talk and walks the walk. Rather than just raising money in my cushy castle for the hungry, actually going to soup kitchens and meeting people where they are to look them in the eye and shake their hand. This, I hope, would encourage others to do the same.
  3. Honesty: I would like to be honest about my failures. I’m not perfect, none of us are. We should all be striving for perfection by attempting to be the perfect model of Christ, but all fall short of the glory of God. We live in a world where failure is shameful rather than being a stepping stone on the way to success. We only ever hear about really successful people failing, after they’ve already achieved success. I would like to be a symbol of imperfection constantly standing back up. So many of our leaders, political and cultural, are not honest with us: butt injections, hair medication, how much money is being stored in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. I would want to be the type of leader that people can know isn’t always right, but is always trying to become better.
  4. T.E.A.M Work: I believe Together Everyone Achieves More and I would want to bring this to my leadership. A family succeeds when all members support and encourage one another, a community works when everyone does their part, a country prospers when people listen and have dialogue about the important issues they face. If I ran the world, I would want to be the type of leader that knows I may be the first among equals, and everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Our cultural and political leaders build their microcosms of people who reinforce their views, and when someone defects, they are kicked out of the herd. This is no ways to lead, and it’s no way to live. The success of a leader is dependent upon the success of the people they are leading and visa versa. I wish everyone knew this, and if I ever had the chance to run the world, I hope I would remember this.
  5. Culture and Sport: Everyone loves music in some form or another, everyone loves art in some form or another, everyone loves sport in some form or another. We spend all day fighting about the important issues of the day, but manage to come together to celebrate our favorite football team. We spend all day discussing the challenges the people around us are facing and how the other side of the isle is holding us back, but we come together to enjoy movies. Debate and dialogue have a critical part to play in the continued evolution of a society, but culture and sport are unifiers. These things should be encouraged, not defunded. We need them in order to keep us from falling into a perpetual pit of division. If I ran the world, I would participate in cultural explorations and at least watch competitive sports. They have so much to teach us about healthy competition, good sportsmanship, respect for others, and expanding our minds so we do not fear the unknown. 

This prompt was so much fun! I realize it is very unlikely I’ll ever rule anything but a few kids in a classroom, but I still enjoyed writing this post. It is a two edged sword, to rule anything, because you can’t make everyone happy, and sometimes decisions have to be made by the leader that the followers won’t understand. But that doesn’t mean our cultural and political leaders shouldn’t work to always make the world a better place than the way they found it. These are the things I would try to do, what about you?

Monday, April 3, 2017

My First Pilates Class

I took my first pilates class a couple weeks ago and it kicked my butt! Pilates is all about working what I call, the trunk: abs, back, bum. These muscles serve as the trunk of your body just like the trunk of a tree. They are necessary for you to maintain an upright posture, balance, and keep things running smoothly. I would say they are probably the most important, yet under focused, parts of the body. This is because they don't look "sexy." Legs and arms, sure; but how many people are worried about working the muscles in their back? How many people even know they have muscles in their back. Then there are the people that just do cardio and don't do anything about strength training--that's a whole other post.

I went to this class at a small studio in the downtown area of my hometown. It was a small business and it was lovely. The owners were there and we super nice and answered all of my questions. I had a lot of questions. For starters, I never liked doing pilates, even at home. I do a lot of YouTube workouts but I hate the pilates ones. It's because we always start with the Hundreds. The Hundreds SUCK, pardon my language. I'm also used to doing what is called "mat pilates," which means you don't need any of the fancy apparatuses designed by Joseph Pilates. This class used what is called a Reformer. I cannot even describe this machine to you, it had strings and pulls and all sorts of moving parts. Luckily, the teacher was amazing and she spent a lot of time with me to help make the adjustments I needed for my workout. It was also a small class, just three of us ladies. This made me feel more comfortable because it was okay for me to mess up and it meant the instructor could supervise my movements, since I'm new the game.

I went into class with so much confidence, not about pilates itself but because I lift weights. I thought I was strong, I was wrong. I worked muscles I thought I worked all the time, but I was definitely sore the next day. It was awesome, I felt it in my tush, my love handles, and I felt it in my lower abs. The place I was most surprised I didn't feel it was my knee. I danced as a youth and as a result have some kind of arthritis in both my knees, especially my left (base leg for technique). It bothers me most of the time, especially when the weather is bad. It has significantly improved since eliminating animal products from my diet, but I can still feel it when I work out. The day after pilates, I didn't feel a thing! I was so surprised. When I was doing some research for an e-book I'm working on, I found there are a lot of people who suffer from joint pain that swear by pilates. Regular practice has virtually eliminated their joint discomfort.

All in all I think pilates should be part of a well rounded fitness regimen. You may not need to go every other day like someone with arthritis but I think once a week would be amazing. It'll kick your butt, and make it sore, but it will be totally worth it!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Story of April Fools’ Day

Today is April 1 and it is one of my least favorite days of the year. I am always so afraid of what other people are going to be doing for their own amusement. Also, I’ve watched enough cartoons to know that young people can be very creative and cause a lot of trouble. There are plenty of pranks that are funny where no one gets hurt but everyone has a good laugh. The ones like putting a KICK ME sign on someone’s back, are fine. No one actually kicks that person, at least not hard. But then there are the scary ones like putting rubber bugs on someone’s desk. I really don’t like bugs. Anything with bugs or snakes, even if they're fake, are not fun. I guess the big reason I’m afraid of April Fools’ Day is because I’m afraid of so many things: bugs, snakes, loud noises, fast movements, human contact in general. All of these things bring about various degrees of discomfort. So what inspired this horrible holiday? 

Because the day has been celebrated for years,  no one knows the exact story. Here is an article form the History Channel that I found interesting. My favorite story is the switching of the calendar. 

For centuries people used the Julian calendar, established by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. The calendar was used for centuries but incorrectly calculated a year by 11 minutes. Overtime, this miscalculation began to affect the time of year when Easter was celebrated. For this reason, scholars got to work on fixing the calendar. In 1563, at the Council of Trent, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull changing the official calendar of the Church. Yes, this was the during the Protestant schism and it caused some challenges. Catholic countries like Spain and Italy quickly adopted the new Gregorian calendar for the civil duties, but Protestant countries like Germany and England, held out—for a time. Today, most of the western world uses the Gregorian calendar. Moral of the story: If you like your calendar, thank a Catholic. The calendar can still use a bit of work because it is off by 26 seconds. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but by the year 4909, it will be off by a whole day. 

Back to April Fools’ Day. People using the Julian calendar celebrated the new year during the last week of March while the Gregorian calendar celebrated the new year on January 1. This caused people (I assume Catholics unaware of the merits of the Works of Mercy) to mock and play pranks on the people still using the Julian calendar. 

Monday, March 27, 2017


Last night as I was meditating, the Lord came to my heart. As I typically do, I ran my hands around his hands. I noticed his soft fingers with clean, short fingernails. No rough edges or marks on them other than a large clean hole right in the middle. There was no blood or hanging flesh, there was no bone exposed but it was red inside. He also had traces of hair on his wrists and back of the hand. For a great deal of time, I just sat playing with his hand. He brought us to a spot in a plush wood and he sat with his back against a tree. I could hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance. As he sat with one knee in the air, I pulled myself into him and placed my ear to his Sacred Heart. I began to slow my breathing to meet his steady heartbeat with my own. Mother came and sat smiling with us. Then a baby appeared in my arms. A beautiful tiny infant, only a few days old. He had a little fuzzy hair, brown eyes, and a delicate little smile. When he yawned, I smiled. I felt such great peace, contentment, and love for this little child. I spent much time rubbing his cheek and head, giving him kisses and holding him as close to my heart as my body was to the heart of Jesus. Then the Lord said, "Give me your baby." I was taken aback by the idea of this tiny infant being my child. I did love him dearly, but I had no husband and I've never given birth. I looked Jesus in his brown eyes and he repeated, "Give me your baby." I looked back to my son and found myself unable to give him up. Then Mary stepped in and said, "Give Him your baby." I began weeping strongly at the thought of giving up my beautiful boy. He was such a tiny thing, so warm and fragile. I didn't want him to be anywhere except my arms. The Mother repeated, "Give Him your baby." I wasn't ready to give him up. I cried and kissed him on his forehead. His beautiful brown eyes remained closed as he slept comfortably in my arms only twitching a few times. I wept louder and began repeating to myself, "Give Him the baby." I know God's plan is always good, I know he would never do anything to hurt my baby, yet I could not bring myself to hand over my only son. I weep now as I recount the anguish my heart felt as I stared down on that tiny little human, my tiny little human. After repeating to  myself, "Give Him the baby," many times, I handed my infant son to my Lord Jesus. Immediately I was in the streets of Jerusalem on the day of my Lord's sufferings. I watched as the same Jesus that held me at the tree in the woods, carried a cross larger than he was, beaten by soldiers, and spat on and had feces thrown at him as he walked the streets. I saw Veronica wipe the sweat and blood from his face. I followed by removing my white church veil to wipe his beautiful face and kiss him. A faint smile through such extreme pain broke his lips but only for a moment. The whips at his back returned and he continued to move. I stood at the cross when they rose him upon it. I found a stool near by to climb on in order to hold his body up so he could breathe. He was too heavy and he was too weak to even speak. He was bloodied and broken, nothing like the man in the woods. His heart was erratic and his breath inconsistent, not like it was in the woods. I again wiped his face with my veil and held his face in my hands. I could not take this pain away. I called for help but no one answered me. There were people around but they just stood and watched as I continued to try to help him breathe and keep blood from his swollen eyes. There was nothing I could do, then he died. When he was taken from the cross, I dropped to my knees and screamed. I screamed and I screamed, wailing until I had no voice. All the pain I felt came out of my belly and through my mouth. I was broken. It was then dusk and I lay curled in a ball in front of the large rock where Jesus was buried. I laid crying alone in the cold night, puling my clothing tightly around me to keep warm. My tears warmed my face. I stopped wailing, but the crying didn't end.

That is where my meditation ended. At first, I thought Jesus was asking me to give up my dreams of being a wife and mother when we were in the woods. I have fears about the possibility of being called to religious life. All I have wanted for year is to be a wife and mother, yet I am not. I must trust God's timing, I thought. Now I fear I must trust God's call. For the past couple weeks I've been dealing with the fact that this may be the vocation I am being called to. Putting my child in God's hands felt like a gesture of release of my dreams for myself. But when I left my meditation, I realized I was the Blessed Mother. I was Our Lady with an infant without giving birth or having relations with a man. I was Mary as I let go of my beautiful boy and placed him in the arms of God with the hope that he would be protected. I was the Mother that wanted to clean my son's face on his way to Calvary, and hold him up so he could breathe. I was her as the body of my son was taken from the cross as I screamed without unconsolably. I was Mary as I fell asleep in the cold wrapped in a ball outside the tomb where my son had been buried. I was Mary. The first time I prayed Stations of the Cross, I was moved to tears as I united myself to the Mother of God as she sacrificed her son for the sake of sinners like me. In my mediation, I was again united to her sorrows. Yet I continue to sin, I continue to fall short of my obedience to God, I still lack trust in God, I still fear what it will mean for me to give up my dreams to accept an alternative vocation. I pray for Mary's obedience, courage, and trust. I am thankful to have the opportunity to experience her sorrows, but I hope to also experience her virtues.