All posts by CadyLy

Drifting into December

December starts now. The last month of a very unusual year. I’ve been attempting to create more routines to my days, and am trying to build in specific times during the day where I can read, pray, and reflect.

This nighttime one can be difficult, because I’m very good at working or distracting myself until exhaustion, then falling into bed. Even now, it’s quite late, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts.

Going into Advent, it’s supposed to be this quiet, penitential time where you prepare yourself for the miracle of God made flesh. Too often, it ends up being a blur of planning and frenetic activity as the days tick by faster than ever. We have decorating to do, cards to send, presents to buy and wrap, outfits and meals to plan, and countless other tasks that seems to all gang up and attack you at once.

I have this vision in my head of winters as being a time where you can curl up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and a good book. My winters are not often this way. I don’t take that space in the cadence of my days to lean into the change of the season.

Do I want to change? This is a good question. I quite like being busy and feeling productive. But productivity without real purpose feels like so much wasted effort. In 6 months, will the things that I have chosen to do have benefited me in some way?

What work am I doing within my soul? How are the choices I’m making (or not making!) helping me to be the person God envisions me being? What good can I do in the lives of others, if only I take the time to get out of my own thoughts and look outward?

We shall see. 🙂

Let me know what your dreams are for yourself this December.

New Beginnings…

I attended a Zoom meeting last night with Laken and some members of her PlanWithLaken community and for 2 hours we discussed topics related to goal setting and personal growth. I love the encouragement and inspiration which comes from this community.

A particular app came up in discussion (which, to be honest, has come up before and I’ve downloaded it, but I never actually got around to setting it up) – Routinery. Spurred on by the discussion, I finally opened the app and set it up with a Morning Routine, Lunch Routine, and Evening Routine.

I don’t really have anything too surprising in there right now, but I did add in some skin care, time set aside for spiritual reading, and making a habit of doing the dishes during lunch (it just has been a successful time for me to do them).

At first go, I’m seeing that there are things I can do to prep for my routine that will make things go smoother, like making sure that you have pre-opened the box containing your vitamins, and having an idea of what you want to wear for the day (probably also having clean clothes, LOL). I baked into my Evening Routine some things like putting things away. I love coming into the office to start the day and having a neat desk. I’d rather do that at night than quickly cleaning it up in the morning before I log in to work.

I added some reading time in to my Morning Routine. Not that I – in general – have difficulty finding time to read, but that I don’t necessarily make time for spiritual reading and reflection. At least, not a consistent time. One of the things that I miss about the pre-pandemic life is that I used to be able to attend Mass at 6:30 am before work. I liked the idea of starting off the day with God.

I know it’s not Advent yet, but I thought it would be good for me to read Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI. Reading it now will set the stage for me to enter into Advent with a prayerful heart and really experience this season of hopeful waiting that we are about to enter into.

Do you have anything you are doing to prep for Advent?

Blog Readers?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
COVID-inspired fuchsia hair

Hey! Hi! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done more than post once in a blue moon. I’m not quite sure how I got out of it, or why trying to recommit is always so difficult. Perhaps because getting online to write too often leads me down a rabbit hole of Google searches and YouTube videos. Perhaps I get caught up in other people’s content and don’t spend enough time trying to make any of my own. Perhaps I delay because I want to find the “perfect” image to go with my words, yet also haven’t make my photography a priority in a while either. Perhaps, with all the quarantining, I am a little tired of being alone with my own thoughts and prefer to “engage” with others, even if that is only as a reader or viewer.

Are blogs even a thing any more? I get that vlogging on YouTube is more widely done, but I don’t really like being in front of the camera that much. Plus, right now, getting video off my phone for editing is a nightmare. I think I express myself better in written formats. I tend to go blank when the camera is rolling (or even in person, if we are being honest 🙂 ).

I used to use RSS readers to aggregate all the blog posts from people that I followed. I haven’t used these in a long, long time and I’m sure some have shut down, while some others may have been developed.

If you use an RSS reader, or some other content aggregator, what is your favorite? How do you track people and channels that you are interested in.

Back in the day, Bloglovin’ was my go-to after … the one I can’t remember … went away. I re-logged into that site and “claimed” my blog there, which is why you have that link at the top of this post.

Perhaps some research is warranted. I’ll do a little internet digging and see what I can find and report back! Please leave a comment with any recommendations, and I’ll give them a peek as well.

Crew Dragon Returns to Earth!

A couple months ago, we watched as NASA and SpaceX launched two astronauts for a mission to the International Space Station. It was the first time in a long time that US astronauts were launched in a US craft from US soil. Today, we got to watch the happy ending to that mission, as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico and both the spacecraft and the astronauts were successfully recovered.

Top 10 Things to Know for NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 Return | NASA
Image by NASA

Watching live on NASA TV was a fairly low-res event – most of the time, the images displayed were dim and hazy. But this did nothing to curb my excitement as we first saw images of Crew Dragon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, releasing the (counting… one… two!) drogue parachutes. Then, the four main chutes. Keeping pace with them as they decelerated (“Speed is nominal.”). And finally, SPLASHDOWN! (And, of course, the interminable waiting while they “sniffed” the spacecraft for hazardous gases and decontaminated it, before we could see the successful extraction of the astronauts.)

I took a few screen captures as I watched, but really, the actual photos from NASA are vastly superior. 🙂

These images would have you think that it was a crappy, hazy day at sea.
NASA astronauts emerge from SpaceX Dragon Capsule after splashing ...
NASA images paint a much better picture.
SpaceX return to Earth: How to watch Crew Dragon's NASA astronauts ...
Graphic of the sequence of events

“Welcome back to Planet Earth and thank you for flying SpaceX!”

Summer Study Plan

Ever since I ordered my iPad, I have been looking up productivity/study/organization tools and apps on YouTube, to see how others are using their iPads.

Digital note-taking has always been an interest of mine and I’ve tried multiple versions from taking notes on a laptop in Word, to using an Echo pen to record my handwriting along with audio from the lecture.

Two of the apps that I am the most excited to explore are GoodNotes 5 and Notion. GoodNotes is a note-taking app that allows for a lot of flexibility, and has some great features like the zoom box and automatically straightening my perpetually crooked lines. I’ve been playing with that for a few weeks now and love it.

Samuel Suresh doesn’t have a ton of YouTube videos, but the ones that he has posted are quite good.

He takes very creative notes. In this video, as he is talking about the diagram of the heart, he mentions a resource called Crash Course. I looked into this, and it is a website run by the Green brothers that offers free educational videos.

I had been toying around with creating a more structured study regime for myself, to motivate me to do something besides work and Netflix/YouTube…

Enter, Notion. Notion is an app that I just learned about yesterday, via StudyCollab on YouTube. It can do a lot of different things, including project management, wikis, file management, calendaring, collaboration…. Alicia has been using it for her university work, which seemed to fit in nicely with my studying interests.

She was kind and linked a copy of the template she uses for her university work in the description of her video.

With these tools, I’ve come up with a plan…

Because I’m a big nerd and also hate the idea of “free time,” I’ve decided that I’m going to study a different subject every day:

  • Mondays – Language (Mondays are incomprehensible anyway)
  • Tuesdays – Government (since voting happens on Tuesdays…)
  • Wednesdays – Anatomy (Hump Day! –> camels –> biology)
  • Thursdays – Literature (What better than classics on Throwback Thursdays??)
  • Fridays – Research Day (this is where I can do whatever I want)
  • Saturdays – Study Skills (I liked the alliteration)
  • Sundays – Theology (what else?)

I’ve even made a calendar from today through the end of August, outlining exactly which lessons I’ll be doing on which days.

The only thing left to decide is which language I want to study. I put a poll up on my Instagram, to have people vote for either Italian or Chinese. Right now, the vote is split 50/50. I’ll give it until tomorrow morning, then make a choice.

It looks like Thursdays are not filled in for Literature, but really, that’s because I don’t know how long it will take me to read each book. The course has a bunch of different books they discuss, but I feel that to get the most out of the course, I’ll want to make sure that I read the book first. The first book on the list is Romeo and Juliet, so that should be fairly quick. Each week, if I haven’t finished the book yet, I’ll use that designated time to read more in it. This also has the added benefit of forcing me to read more classics (something I always intend to do).

Do you have any self-improvement plans for the summer? Anything that you are doing during these quarantine days that hadn’t previously been a part of your routine?

I’m Going to Mars!

Well, not technically. But I did sign up to participate in a NASA media program.

“When Perseverance launches to Mars, it will carry three dime-size chips with 10.9 million names submitted by people all over the world. Those who already submitted their names can get a special “Now Boarding” stamp on their boarding passes….”

Mars.NASA.gov

Below is my mission badge!

This is really exciting! I cannot wait until they send people to Mars!

Launch is currently scheduled for July 30th at 7 am EDT.

Tiny Photographers

I am coming to love handing over my phone to my goddaughter and her sisters. I always get cute videos and photos. It’s so special to be able to see the world through their eyes and hear their ideas and stories when they are playing on their own.

These are some pretty successful images: of flowers near the rectory, and a kid’s perspective photo of her parents.

I love how she included so many photos of her feet. As adults, how often to we take the time to document the kids in their tiny shoes? Or look at the sidewalk?

All images in this post (except for this one), are courtesy of #RosaliaMercyC!

The Reading Rush 2020

July 20-26, 2020

Ariel Bissett created the “BookTubeAThon” readathon in 2013. It has grown from there and is now known as “The Reading Rush.” It is a week-long readathon with some challenges and giveaways if you participate online. I’m always up for reading and challenges!

The Reading Challenges

  1. Read a book with a cover that matches the color of your birth stone.
  2. Read a book that starts with the word “the”.
  3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.
  4. Read the first book you touch.
  5. Read a book completely outside of your house.
  6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve already wanted to read more of.
  7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

My Lineup

  1. “88 Days to Kandahar” by Robert L. Grenier
    • This one fulfills #4. I reached over to my unread bookshelf with my eyes closed and this is the book I picked.
    • One line synopsis: “The improbable true story of America’s first war in Afghanistan.”
  2. “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw
    • This one fulfills #3 and #6. I always want to read more classics, but find it hard to select them when I’m looking for my next read.
    • This book inspired the 1999 movie, “She’s All That.”
    • One line synopsis: “All of them deal with a man creating a beautiful and perfect woman out of something imperfect, and then falling in love with her.”
    • This looks to be the shortest book at 98 pages, so it’s likely the one I will use for #5. I’ll try to read this one outside vs. modifying the challenge. I may have to buy a comfy outdoor chair….
  3. “The Memory Key” by Liana Liu
    • This one fulfills #2.
    • One line synopsis: “Remember everything. Forgive nothing.”
  4. “War Girls” by Tochi Onyebuchi
    • This one fulfills #1 and #7. My birthstone is an aqua/turquoise color. This book takes place in a future Nigeria.
    • One line synopsis: “In a post-apocalyptic Nigeria plagued by violence and political unrest, two sisters dream of peace, hope, and a future together.”

Other Fun Activities

Read-In on Wednesday, July 22, at 6 pm.

Reading Rush Book Club: “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. I’ve already read this book, but I might join the book discussion live show on July 25 at 2 pm EDT. For the book club, they will be using hashtags #rrsuchafunage and #rrbookclub on social media.

LOTR Buddy Read: Fellowship Ch. 1-7

Several of my friends mentioned that they were going to read or re-read The Lord of the Rings series this summer, so I has been on my mind to re-read them myself. I have read them, but it’s been quite some time and I’m not overly familiar with the plot or all of the characters.

However, it wasn’t until my friend, Katie, started posting as she read on Facebook that I was really motivated to read it now. I’m quite far behind her (she’s already on Return of the King, and for me, Frodo and company are just leaving Tom Bombadil’s house), so I spent some time creeping on her Facebook page to see what her comments were at each point. This will make my buddy-read a little asynchronous.

(A quick comment about formatting…. I think I’d like – for myself – to write these out on my blog, so that I can reference them later in their entirety. However, I’ll also be cross-posting to Facebook, to allow others to participate/comment as they wish. Because I love sharing stories with others. There will be spoilers and, in general, these will be my initial reactions vs. anything really well thought out.)

Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party

I’m not really sure what to think of Bilbo; he seems rather rude and condescending to other hobbits. At some point in the distant past, I’ve read these books before, but not particularly attentively. I’ve watched some of the movies (but still haven’t made it through The Hobbit) and the scene where Gandalf is trying to get Bilbo to leave the Ring felt more oppressive and ominous than in the book version. Bilbo is kind of a jerk with the presents he left – highlighting flaws in others.

(My first encounter with Bilbo was when we were assigned The Hobbit to read in the 7th grade. I didn’t want to read it and I kept calling him Biblo.)

Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

It was a little surprising to me that Frodo got to be 50 years old before his adventure began. Also, if hobbits’ lifespans aren’t that much longer than humans’, why don’t Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin have wives and families? Gandalf seems to be far more cautious about drawing conclusions than I am. Was Sméagol always evil/selfish/murderous, or was that just the influence of the Ring? The Ring seems to corrupt more quickly and more fully the more the owner wears it and uses its powers.

Chapter 3: Three is Company

What of the morality of Frodo selling Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses, when he knew that the Enemy was coming after the Ring and knew the name “Baggins”? The Sackville-Bagginses may have been grasping after Bag End for some time, but did they deserve death?

Frodo kind of complains a lot – his heavy pack, how much weight he will lose on the journey – before they even begin. Is he really this self-absorbed, or is he more nervous than he lets on?

Sam seems to be portrayed as a bit bumbling and naive, but he’s shouldering adversity and change remarkably well.

I do not trust these cloaked riders sniffing around. Why are they deterred by the Elves?

Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

Sam is shown to be more thoughtful and perceptive than he was initially made out to be. I’m kind of getting a Mary vibe from him. Frodo is the focus and Sam is happy to support him however he can and ponders things within his heart.

All of their songs remind me of the cadences sung at march in the military.

Already, we can see how much Frodo needs his friends – Pippin gave good advice about the road being quicker (that fortuitously wasn’t taken) and helped immeasurably with Farmer Maggot.

Mrs. Maggot was a little funny with gifting Frodo a basket of mushrooms when he used to steal their mushrooms as a youth. Maybe Bilbo wasn’t so much of a jerk before, and hobbits just like to give snarky presents?

Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked

I low key love all of Frodo’s friends right now, when they tell him they know all about his mission and refuse to let him go into danger alone.

What is the tall, white tower that Frodo dreams of?

I’m kinda mad at Frodo for not having left earlier. I know, it increases the plot tension….

Katie

Hmmm…. I get where Katie’s coming from. As a third-party observer, we are sitting here with our popcorn, yelling at him to get going before the Enemy catches up with him. But, I think it makes a lot of sense for Frodo to drag his heels here. Hobbits are the homebodies of the fantasy creatures in this world, so leaving Hobbiton has to be hard for him – I get that he wants to stay as long as possible and drink it all in, especially if he thinks it’s likely he may never return.

Birthday celebrations and gift-giving seems to be a pretty big part of hobbit culture, so I get why he wants to have one more birthday at home.

Chapter 6: The Old Forest

“They do say the trees do actually move…” – Ents?

“But the hobbits came and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest…” – now I’m a little horrified. How did the trees and the hobbits become enemies? Who was the first aggressor?

It’s funny how the forest herded them. Sam catching on that their sudden sleepiness is suspicious – he’s a smart cookie!

Tom Bombadil sings and the trees obey. The hobbits arrive at Tom’s house and are bathed in a golden light. He’s such an interesting character. I’m not sure what to make of him.

Chapter 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil

Frodo: “Who is Tom Bombadil?” Goldberry: “He is.”

Tower in the middle of a circular plain, an old man and an eagle – Frodo’s dreams seem prophetic.

Very odd were Tom’s interactions with the Ring. Frodo just gave it over (with no resistance) and Tom didn’t become invisible when he put it on. Tom seems to be able to see Frodo when Frodo has the Ring on.

I’m a little confused over the significance of this interlude at Tom’s house. What am I missing?

This is Not How You Do It

If you are part of the paper planner community, you know things are blowing up this week. Easy Reader News published the article, Mira Costa High Class of 2020 forges new tradition from pandemic on June 14, 2020. This became a planner community issue because the article features Erin Condren (a member of the parents’ graduation committee) and her twin children (graduating seniors who are student body president and senior class president, respectively). Erin is the founder of one of the most well-known planner companies, which bears her name.

It points out how the pandemic has affected this graduating class and what they have done to celebrate despite state regulations and recommendations from healthcare experts.

The initial plan from the school administration was to “present students their diplomas in the football stadium in groups of 50.” Small groups, socially distanced, and livestreamed, with no parents in attendance to further reduce the density of people at the event. This was in line with their county’s health department guidelines. This plan was ultimately rejected by the health department on June 8th.

Instead, they had the graduates arrive in individual cars by family, walk across the stage and receive their diplomas alone. The family could roll down the car windows and take photos, but could not get out of the cars. All parties were to wear masks. This was June 11th.

The week before the health department rejection, on June 2nd, people marched from Manhattan Beach to protest against systemic racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The county allowed the march in protest, but disallowed the original graduation plan, so after the school’s scheduled graduation event – which took 7.5 hours – the graduates gathered and “marched” together, while ignoring social distancing and primarily not wearing masks.

I feel for the graduates. They were not able to participate in a lot of the traditional “senior year” activities. Social distancing is difficult. Being separated from your friends is lonely. It feels like this has been an eternity.

This wasn’t something that the students did in secret, but it was reported that the parents were cheering from nearby balconies. The Vice Principal of the high school was at the beach in support of this gathering. I have more softness in my heart for the ignorance and self-focus of the graduates vs. the adults – consideration of others is something you learn and grow in as you live.

BUT…. What About Public Safety?

Restrictions were put in place for public safety reasons. Viruses do not care about traditions, celebrations, jobs, grief, or any other consideration – no matter how honorable. They just replicate. I truly believe that the actions taken by governments and agencies around the world have been done in good faith, to try and preserve life. Individual decisions may have turned out to be good or bad, but I believe they attempt to make the best possible decision with the information available at the time. We have seen lots of people die from COVID-19, and many others get very sick. We have seen our health system put under an enormous strain. We have seen record numbers of people out of work and scared about how they are going to pay rent and put food on the table. We continue to see workplaces having to make difficult decisions in order to remain open and financially viable. We haven’t yet seen the full impact of this pandemic.

So, for me, to so blatantly disregard the health officials in this area and decide to gather in a large group without any masks is not just inadvisable, but morally wrong. It is a slap in the face to the medical workers and first responders who are trying to flatten the curve, so that if you come down with this illness, they will have the capacity to treat you. It’s offensive to people who put their lives and the lives of their family members on the line because they have jobs that put them in contact with people who have COVID-19 or who may be asymptomatic carriers of the Coronavirus – by doing this, you are directly increasing the risk to them. It is an affront to the people who have lost their jobs because we stayed home and their business lost money. Is this celebration more important than their suffering?

BUT…. What About Systemic Racism Issues?

“The county could ban students from gathering but not from marching.”

I’ve seen many people talk about this event as a hallmark display of white privilege in action. And I tend to agree with them. I do not believe that if a similar event were to happen among a group of black high school graduates, that they would be lauded in a news article praising them for finding a way to beat the system.

Protests against systemic racism are necessary and the experiences of black people need to be heard. Our society needs to change. Trivializing this by using a co-opting a “march” in order to get around public safety restrictions is … irresponsible? horrible? appalling? I cannot find the right word for how I feel about that.

Protesting and marching isn’t for just any reason. It’s because the subject matter is important. In this example, it wasn’t that the students were not being allowed to celebrate their graduation. In fact, this happened an HOUR after their sanctioned graduation event. Being able to have the party you want isn’t a right that you protest about. Actual human rights and human dignity are what you protest about and march for.

BUT…. What About Disregard for the Law?

“We even talked about putting hula hoops on the beach for each student, so if the authorities said it was an illegal gathering, they could start hula hooping and say it was an exercise class.”

Erin Condren

Teaching children and young adults to lie to cover-up an illegal activity. That’s what this statement is. It’s not cute. It’s not helpful. And it’s not fair to the countless people across the world who ARE doing the right thing.

It’s also in horribly bad taste considering the current social climate regarding official authority, police brutality, and systemic racism. I don’t know how a parent can casually advise a child to lie to police for an activity they know is illegal, when other parents have to counsel their children on how to appear docile and cooperative during a routine traffic stop because there is a real concern that they could be hurt, abused, or killed because of their skin color.

What Do We Do Now?

I’m disappointed and angry, as I know many other people are. Certainly a lot of people in the planner community own her products. I don’t necessarily feel that abandoning them would do a lot of good – that money is already spent. You can choose to not advertise for her company or not to purchase from her company. You can choose to purchase from black companies or anti-racist companies. It was the individual who contributed to this event, and not the people who work for the brand that bears her name, but there is something to be said about finances being a motivator for change.

I believe that people can change and grow and I believe in the power of and need for forgiveness when an injustice or sin has been committed.

For the larger issues that this event revealed, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few suggestions:

  • We need to stop being selfish and think about how our actions impact others.
  • We – especially white people in a position of privilege – have to listen and learn. Then, act as allies, supporters, and encouragers.
  • Act with your wallet. Support black businesses, give to charities that help to dismantle systemic racism.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Add more cultural diversity into your life. Are you reading and watching content with diversity?
  • Do not let microaggressions slide or think that it is not your responsibility to stand up for what is right.
  • Pray.
  • Forgive.
  • Help each other heal.

Every single person has worth and dignity in the eyes of God. The holiest thing you will ever encounter in your life – outside of God Himself – is another human being.