Being Watched

I oftentimes don’t think that I have much value or purpose in my parish. Several of the older ladies seem to like me. But often, I feel like I’m a bit of a misfit. I’m a single woman in a church that doesn’t really seem to need or want me.

I was reminded today that it’s not that simple. I may not feel like I have much of a place or purpose, but that is not actually true.

It happened after Communion today. The priest gave a blessing “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I bowed my head and made the Sign of the Cross as is appropriate. Then, as I have ever since my time in Spain in 2008, I kissed my thumb. I’m not precisely sure when or why I picked that habit up from the Spanish parish I attended during the fall of 2008, but ever since then, I’ve done that simple thing-kissing my thumb at the end of the Sign of the Cross.

When I looked up, I saw a little girl on the other side of the aisle watching me. N is just seven; I’ve known her most of her life. She’s from a wonderful family, and I never ceased to be impressed and inspired by her parents’ faith. I realized that N was mimicking what I had just done. She copied the Sign of the Cross as I’d just made it, and then she kissed her thumb like I’d just done. I made eye contact with her, and we exchanged quick smiles. That was the end of our interaction-although we chatted briefly after Liturgy.

But that moment stuck in my head. As I previously said, I often feel purposeless at church. While driving home, I thought over that moment. N watched me during that moment, and she imitated what I did. That makes me at some level a role model for her. That is a role for me in the parish.

I don’t often think about this, but that is an important role for me in my parish. I can be a role model for the girls in the parish. I can be a role model for them in my behavior, in my speech, and even in my dress. I can try to show them that you can be a young, single woman who likes to wear stylish clothing and still be a modest, devout Catholic. And that is no small thing. It might seem to me like a small thing or something that I don’t really notice. But it is important.

As a young, single woman, I can be a role model. I can show girls that women other than their moms can be faithful Catholics. Being a good and faithful Catholic doesn’t have to contradict fashionable dress or “trendy” behavior.

As St. Paul said, “Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12). That’s my purpose. And that should be the purpose of all young, single Christian women in their churches.

 

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A Place at the Table

In my post about blog envy, I mentioned the fact that there seem to be many flourishing Catholic mommy blogs out there, but there doesn’t seem to be room for Catholic single ladies to write blogs. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that the majority of Catholic blogs written by women are written by married women with children. These women are largely stay-at-home moms who homeschool. That’s an admirable life choice, and I respect them for that.

But it’s also a world into which I don’t fit. I read the posts that they write, and I feel disconnected. These are what I call “mommy blogs.” They tend to focus on the issues specifically related to marriage and family life and less so on the issues that face all Catholic women regardless of marital status. They’re not blogs for all Catholic women, and that is entirely fine-unless they bill themselves as blogs for all Catholic women. I recognize that these women need a community of support and encouragement. It is good that they have one another. I think it’s awesome that the internet enables them to interact with and support one another regardless of geography. I wouldn’t expect them to try to reach out to single women specifically; that wouldn’t make sense given the nature of their blogs. I don’t expect them to want to connect with me via their blogs. I’m not their intended audience.

However, at times, certain topics on their blogs serve as a reminder to me that in many places within the Church, single women are still treated like second-class adults or less than full-fledged adults. It can make me feel like the issues that I face are less important than the issues that they face and therefore I am less valuable to them and to the Church. I don’t think that it’s something that married women do intentionally. I don’t think that they sit around at playgroups or on the nights-out together that I hope they have and plot to look down on single women. But there are many times when I feel left out or looked down upon. Their blog posts, even those that aren’t explicitly about motherhood, oftentimes aren’t geared toward my current place in life. And at times the way that they write or the topics about which they write can make me feel as though a life such as mine (single, working, grad student) is not as important for the Kingdom of God as their lives are.

I am well aware that my life is in a different place than theirs. I’m not married nor do I have children. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever get married. Right now, I’m choosing to focus on my professional and academic worlds. In September, I’m going to start 15-16 months of working full-time and going to school full-time. It’s going to kick my butt, and I’m going to have to make sacrifices in some areas of my life for the benefit of other areas. My career needs to be my priority right now. Marriage and whatnot can come later. (There is an exception to this, and I’ll explain it at another point.) I believe that God has called me to this particular career, and I need to spend this season of my life focusing on that area.

And as odd as that might sound, I think that’s what I have to offer the mommy bloggers. I offer a different perspective on life. I believe in the same things that they do, but I work in the secular world. I daily meet people who don’t operate from my worldview, and I work with and alongside them. I don’t have the privilege of being surrounded in my professional life by Christians who love and support me, who agree with my goals and plans.

The mommy bloggers can talk about serving God in the context of their families, and I can talk about serving God in the context of my job. We all have the same goal-to build the Kingdom of God; we’re just going about it in different ways. My way isn’t less important than theirs, and theirs isn’t less important than mine. While the mommy bloggers can talk about building the Kingdom of God in their family lives, I can talk about building the Kingdom by working outside the home and engaging primarily with non-Christians.

And this brings me to my dream and the title of my post. I want a place at the table of female Catholic bloggers. I want to write and exist in a blogosphere where Catholic women both married and unmarried, those who work at home and those who work outside the home can sit down together and discuss our common ground. I think that we have much to offer one another. I think that I can learn from these women, and I’d like to hope that they could learn from me. I’d like to ask them questions about being married, and I don’t know what they could ask me. They could ask me about knitting or tea or books. They could ask me about grad school. They could ask me what it’s like to work with kiddos from all over the world. (By the way, it’s super awesome.) The point is this: I’d like to see a place at the table of female Catholic bloggers for single women.

I don’t want the mommy bloggers to change the topic or tone of their blogs; I believe that there is real value to their writing. But I want to create a conversation between their blogs and blogs like mine. I want to have the opportunity to talk with them about the different ways of Kingdom-building. I would really love it if every now and then those mommy bloggers who really do want to write for all Catholic women tried to find out how to best relate to their single readers. (Hint: Writing a post about what kind of man I should marry doesn’t help me. A post about seeking the Lord in all circumstances would however be awesome.) I want to see a community created and friendships built. I want to be treated as an equal, as a friend, and as a sister.

Blog Envy

Warning: This post is completely and utterly self-indulgent. I’m whining, and I know it. If you don’t want to read my whining, please close this window/tab.

It’s time for a confession, dear reader(s). If you know me well, you know that I like to read blogs, and I enjoy writing my own blog. But I have to admit that sometimes I get blog envy. I find myself jealous of those women who have hundreds of blog followers who hang on their every word/picture/Instagram post and they get asked to write guests posts (that they’re paid for!) for other bloggers. Their Twitter feeds have hundreds of followers, and when they post a question on Instagram, they have 28 answers in 9 minutes. At the very least, it must be interesting to have that kind of a loyal following.

But I know that my blog is never going to be one of those blogs. And the thing is that I’m okay with that. I might occasionally get blog envy because I wish that I got more hits or more comments. I might wish that my blogging brought in money or that my blog was prettier to look at. But I don’t think that I’m meant to be that blogger. For one thing, I’m not sure that I’m committed enough to my blog to be one of them. I’m not sure that I want to let you in to every area of my life. I’m pretty honest with my readers. I’m a teacher. I’m in grad school. I’m single. I knit. I’m Byzantine Catholic. I’m open and honest about all of these things, and I don’t mind that. But I’m not sure that I want total strangers to know everything about me. There are some parts of my life that I’d really rather keep away from the internet.

Also, I don’t have fabulous photography or graphic design in every post. I can’t make my blog as aesthetically pleasing as other blogs out there, and I’m okay with that. My hair rarely ever looks perfect, and it is so much harder to manage than you think it is. (And let’s face it; my hair alone is one reason why I’m never going to be the next A Cup of Jo or A Beautiful Mess. Those are lovely and delightful blogs, but their writers do NOT have thick, frizzy hair.)

And I’m not sure that I want to write every day. Trying to write a post once a week (my vague goal for 2015) is hard enough for me. Granted, when I have a knitted finished object to flash that makes it easier, but I don’t always have one. I want writing this blog to be fun for me. I started this blog because I wanted my own corner of the internet where I could talk about my knitting, my books, my food, my tea, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I want to enjoy it; I don’t want it feel like it’s something that I have to do.

Also, I don’t find that there is enough interest in the kind of blog that I write for it to become popular. I don’t think that many people are interested the ramblings of a young Byzantine Catholic woman trying to follow her faith, teach the future, go to grad school, knit, read, and drink as much tea as possible. I’ve tried to write posts about cooking without dairy without any positive feedback, so that’s an avenue I won’t pursue in the future. And while Catholic mommy blogs seem to be immensely popular, there doesn’t (in my experience) seem to be room for or desire for Catholic single women’s blogs.

The purpose of this self-indulgent whine is this: My little corner of the internet feels very lonely to me sometimes. I see more successful bloggers writing books or hiring staff to help with the work that needs to be done. And my blog gets fewer than 100 hits most weeks. When I think about this, I can get frustrated.

But then I remember that I’m not writing for any specific audience. I write for me; I’m writing the blog that I want to read. I wrote my “I may never married” post because I wanted to have a post out in the great blogosphere about what I felt were valuable ways to spend time as a single twenty-something. That title that caused so much trouble among some folks? That was click-bait, my friends; I knew that if I used that title people would read that post. My “Why I want to get married” post was an explanation of why I view marriage as valuable.

I wrote my letters (back in 2012, I think) to my future sons and daughters because I wanted to have those letters in a place where I could find them again someday-and because I thought that maybe someone else would want to read them sometime. I write about knitting because I love it. I write about being Catholic because it’s my greatest passion. I write about the books that I read because I love to read and I like to share the things I love with others.

I’m going to write about trying to pair tea with books. For example, in the near future, I plan on letting you know whether or not drinking Elizabeth Bennet tea or Mr. Darcy tea improves my Pride and Prejudice reading experience. I might write about trying to create outfits that mix my handknits and my store-bought clothing.

I’m going to write about what I like. And if I only get four hits in a day, I’m going to live with that because at least my blog will stay true to who I am. I’ll probably never write a post for pay or write a book or have dozens of people who care what I think. But I’m okay with that. After all, my hair gets frizzy really easily, and I don’t want to be the frizzy-haired blogger. I’d rather just be me with my tea and my books.

(And if you’re wondering why I’m not reading very much these days, well, I am reading. But I don’t think that you want to read book reviews of my grad school textbooks. And I don’t really want to write those. Like I said, I don’t want blogging to be a chore.)

FO: Sparkly Lifesavers

When Tanis Lavallee started posting sneak peeks of what would become the Lifesavers cardigan last summer, I knew that I needed that sweater. When the pattern came out, I wanted one RIGHT NAO. I cast on a few days after the pattern came out, and then it took me nearly three months to knit the sweater. It’s not a hard knit. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. My problem was twofold: firstly, I was knitting it at the same time that I was working on other projects that were a higher priority for me, and secondarily, it’s a fingering-weight sweater and it went slowly.

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But it’s done now! And it’s lovely. The thing that makes my sweater unique is the fact that I used TFA’s Cosmic Blue Label for my three contrast colors. My main color was TFA blue label (80% wool, 20% nylon), but my contrasts were blue label (84% Merino, 16% Nylon) in Chris grey, blushing mauve, and dove. They sparkle, and it’s gorgeous. The sparkle is subtle but perfect. I love the little detail/delight that it adds to the sweater. I love it. And I highly recommend using Cosmic Blue Label for another Lifesavers cardigan.

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The sweater is a nice, lightweight option for spring. The yarn isn’t too heavy. (And okay, aside from the photoshoot for this post, I’m probably not going to wear it in 80 degree weather, but you know…) It’s soft, and it fits well. The thing that I really like about it is that I can wear it with a variety of different kinds of outfits. I could wear it with a skirt or over a dress, and it would look great. I could wear it with jeans, and it would look casual. Today (as you can see) I’m wearing it with my purple pants, and it looks fabulous. I really love this sweater. IMG_2286 IMG_2294 IMG_2295 IMG_2304 IMG_2309 IMG_2311 IMG_2314 IMG_2319 IMG_2337

FO: Midnight Pullover

In August of 2013, I picked up my knitting needle and some scrumptious Tanis Fiber Arts purple label yarn in the gorgeous Midnight colorway and started knitting a sweater. It was going to be a ¾ sleeved cardigan with a lovely lace motif in the upper back. I knit the sleeves and I started the body, but I quickly realized that this wasn’t what I wanted. So I threw it all aside with the intent of coming back to it later.

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Occasionally, I would pick it up and work on it a bit, but it wasn’t much of a priority for me. Somewhere in the winter of 2013-14, I decided to move it from the original size 4 needles unto a pair of size 6 needles and take it from being a cardigan to being a pullover. I dabbled with that pullover when I was bored with everything else until late March of this year. Then, I decided that I was going to focus on this pattern in earnest. I was going to finish this pullover so that I could wear it this spring. My goal was to finish it before I went to Holland in late May because I had this weird goal of wearing it by Lake Michigan. (Please note that it is not yet late May; I have accomplished my goal.) IMG_2251

I worked the sweater up to the row before the sleeve join on the size 6 needles. Then I switched the whole thing back to the size 4 needles. Here, to give the piece a little more visual interest, I worked two rows in aurora (one on 6s, one on 4s). Then I went back to midnight when I joined the sleeves. The rest of the sweater was worked on size 4s.

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After the sleeve join, I worked a three-stitch diagonal line in aurora on the right side of the back. It gives a little more visual interest, and I think it makes the sweater more fun. I ended that diagonal line with a single row in Aurora across only the back. Two inches above that row, I worked another row in aurora. I think that this makes the sweater unique and more “me.”

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I bound off with an attached i-cord. After a good soak, the part of the sweater that was knit on size 6 needles grew, turning the sweater into a tunic. The yarn is soft, comfortable, and gorgeous. I am very pleased with the results.

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Raveled here.