A Baptism for Liam, an Epiphany for Me

I’ve been to Baptisms before, but today’s was special because it showed me something important about myself as well as celebrating the new faith of my friends’ first child.

It showed me that I do want a family life and I do want a Catholic marriage.

My friends Jenni and Ryan celebrated their first child, Liam. He was born on Ash Wednesday into an Irish Catholic family! They have been close friends of mine since high school, when all three of us went to youth group together. They’ve never missed a birthday of mine! They are both responsible but are silly enough to keep each other laughing, too.

Being there with our other mutual friends– also from youth group– was wonderful. They all have families now, and their kids were playing together in the back yard. I’ve seen them all be pregnant. I’ve been to their weddings and showers. I just felt so grounded and comfortable today with all of them.

A statue of the Blessed Mother was in the left corner of the yard and I found her presence very comforting. I found out it was passed down from someone in their family. My own Godmother has a similar one in her front yard. I’ve always hoped that one day when I hopefully own a home I will have one as well.

I spent the afternoon just catching up with our friends, getting to know both their families better, taking pictures and eating great food! It was wonderful to see them together as parents as well, knowing they prayed and planned for this blessing in their lives. They both have this wonderful, relaxed glow about them. And a big reason for that is their marriage is grounded in a strong friendship and shared Catholic faith.

If I’ve had doubts about whether religion is truly a deal-breaker for me in a relationship, today they were dissolved. Jenni has always been my voice of reason, reminding me that it’s not an unreasonable expectation and showing me that it’s possible in her own marriage. I’ve dated enough Atheists and people who profess no faith. They were all good men but there was definitely something elemental missing. I am unabashedly a woman of faith.

And the highlight of the day? Of course, it was holding Liam. He was so calm and cuddly. He felt comfortable with me and I got to take a few pictures with him. And for me, holding a baby is so natural and it just makes my day. To know this little being trusts you enough to relax and let you hold them is such a good feeling.

I will know when I’m in the right relationship and I’m genuinely happy single for the time being.

I’ve almost renounced my faith in the past because I wanted so much to be compatible with a man who was not religious. I am more confident now and will not compromise my religion again for the sake of being in a relationship. Now I recognize my faith is not only fundamental to my my identity, but my happiness.

Making the Hard Choices

I spent most of last year juggling too many social commitments, and this fall I’m making needed adjustments.

I loved being in gospel choir at my parish, but told my choir director this week that I need to drop out. Today I went to Mass for the first time in two months, when our parish priest left. I’ve delayed meeting the new pastor. Today, people were so happy to see me and I was surprised that they all asked if I was singing again with choir. They seemed disappointed. I didn’t have time to explain in these quick conversations, but felt touched just the same.

Our rehearsals are fun, but I need to focus on establishing a sleep routine for myself. I’ve been struggling in the mornings and need to go to bed and wake up earlier.

Our energy encompasses all that we do and feel. I’ve made sacrifices in order to be of service and help others, but I was putting my own needs last.

I’ve made some wonderful strides this year, but still tried too hard to please others.

In just over two months, I’ll be 36! This year is about my future, my happiness.

Already, I feel a change.

My first allegiance needs to be my own health before I commit to anything else.

I need to run more. I’ve planned on four 5k’s between September and October and already signed up for one. I’m so excited!!

On my last run I set my goal higher and I achieved it! I am ready to push myself.

I went to a wedding Friday and ended up sitting next to the mother of a friend, who asked why I haven’t been blogging– she’s on a my subscriber list! Again, I was touched that she noticed. She told me something incredible– that she had attended an Ani DiFranco concert this year and had printed out a few blogs I’d written about her daughter, who had taken her own life. Ani had been one of her heroes, and my friend’s mother included my blogs, in which I’d also mentioned Ani since my friend was such a fan and it was impossible to write about her without mentioning her heroine. She delivered it to someone selling merchandise, and Ani replied to her! She showed me a picture on her phone of the letter. The letter didn’t mention my blogs, but she must have read them.

When I started this little blog I never imagined someone famous would read my words. Let alone an artist as amazing as Ani!

And one of the things Ani said was that it helped her to know that through her music, she had been able to be there for my friend in some tough moments.

You never know how your words or even just a small thing you do can impact someone’s life in a positive way. Just because it doesn’t feel significant to you at the time does not mean your actions aren’t important to someone else.

And thus, I’m blogging today.

 

A Mini-Vacay: Two Tortoises, a Cat, and a Clawfoot Tub

Some close friends of mine asked if I would watch over their apartment and feed their pets while they took a short holiday to see a friend out of state.

And they offered to pay! Of course I said yes.

I never expected how much a little change of scene would benefit me.

First, I must say that I adore older buildings. I would love to find a small one for my own, when I have the financial freedom to allow it. Modern homes are wonderful. But I like places with visible history.

I think they have character and charm. It was laid out entirely different than my little abode– with double the space. The light fixture in every room was different, pretty. Built-in shelves, wood floors, lots of dark wood and heavy doors. A small kitchen with cabinets and a porcelain sink.

I had four keys, three of which I used. It took me a bit to figger out which ones went where, but once I did I adjusted quickly.

I loved the foyer. Dark, quiet. There was only one other tenant in the building– the landlady. The stairs were carpeted a dark mauve.

It had all the trappings of a Chicago apartment! I love the city, but feel peacefully rooted in my hometown. It was wonderful to realize I wouldn’t have to move to find a place with the same qualities.

My friends’ unit was wallpapered– different patterns.

And all the windows!! So much light.

I loved the sound of trains nearby– distinctly a Joliet feature.

My friend offered to have her boyfriend explain Netflix and TV to me via phone– but I didn’t need it. I just enjoyed the peace of being in their space. Of the luxury of a different setting for a few days.

Best of all– the creatures.

After living without a pet for years in a building where they are verboten, I forgot how calming it is to be greeted at the door.

Their cat was always there when she heard the key in the lock.

But my favorites were the tortoises!

I followed my friends’ instructions for feeding to the letter– several different types of lettuce and leafy confections, piled high on a plate. These little guys eat well! And the cat eats the brand of cat food I sell– she took my recommendation and it’s worked out! Validating.

One tortoise is larger, the other small.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the simple routine of coming over to take care of these little guys. How satisfying it was to have them not just depending on me, but also being able to interact with and hold them.

The bigger tortoise was my favorite. He was more affectionate than the cat!!

I took them out of their wooden home, and let them crawl around– keeping careful watch so they didn’t get stuck in a corner or into another room, underneath furniture.

The larger tortoise and I sort of cuddled. I held him by the sides and set him on my chest as I laid on the couch. He just chilled out there. He stuck out his neck and allowed me to pet him a little bit there. I definitely felt a little kinship!!

It’s all wonderful motivation to move forward. I enjoy my current apartment, but a little change is due.

And holy cats! You haven’t LIVED until you’ve taken a bath in a vintage Clawfoot tub.

I’m hooked! If at all possible, I want my next place to have one, too.

The deep basin made me feel like I truly WAS on some exotic vacation.

Simply bliss.