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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Week Begins with a SMILE

I have given myself a personal challenge and I met that challenge two days in a row. Today will be day three and I am determined to keep the promise to myself and meet that challenge again.

The challenge is simple - up my cardio in the gym to 45 minutes before hitting the weight machines.

That probably seems a little weird to some people; however, what I know about me is that going to the gym is always going to feel a little odd and uncomfortable. I have been pretty faithful in my attendance, excluding times of illness, for the past three years. I know where the gym is, I have a locker and work out clothes and I even take a quick shower there because (finally) my metabolism has changed enough that I actually sweat while exercising.

All that being what it is, whenever I am on the treadmill doing my little jogging routine, I half expect someone to walk up to me and say, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. We checked the records and you do not belong here. If you will allow me to escort you across the street to the pizza parlour, I will be glad to order you an extra large pan pizza with lots and lots of cheese. However, you need to stop this whole exercise thing right now. It does not fit you at all".

This attitude has permeated my 'let's get fit' goal. It holds me back. It keeps me at the minimum.

Starting last Saturday, I told myself my new routine for the three times I go this week would be:

15 minutes on the treadmill (jogging, not just walking)
15 minutes on the elliptical (if I spelled that right)
15 minutes on the bicycle (at a good strong level)

45 minutes of solid cardio, mixed up to keep me focused (as I have the attention span of a flea), but done before I do my six or seven weight machine exercises (three sets of 12, thank you).

Let me tell you what is funny - half way through the first 15 minutes, my little alkie head said, "Hmmm...I wonder if I really need to do THAT much cardio?".

Here is what I do when that happens: I remind myself that this is not about what I need to do; rather, it is now a matter of integrity. I made myself a promise. If I don't keep that promise I am not being an honorable and trustworthy woman. If I can't even trust ME to be good to me, how can I expect anyone outside of me to be good to me?

Yes, actually deciding that keeping my word is a matter of integrity and allows me to be a better steward of this creature that is me helped me to stay on that treadmill, move to the bike and then do that dumb ol other thing that I can never spell.

And I did that Sunday too. In fact, I not only did that Sunday, I upped the time by two minutes just for fun.

And tonight, after work, will be day 3.

I liken my determination to honor my own promises to me to my reconversion to the Catholic Faith. Incremental in its application, I would tell myself "I will faithfully attend Mass for one month and see how it goes". I would not slack on it (ok, so that is only 4 times in a row but trust me, I can talk myself out of pretty much anything that is good for me) and then I would evaluate the experience. If there was nothing negative about it, I would continue and today I cannot imagine not celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday with my Catholic family. The sermon can be lousy, the music can stink and I might not like the person standing next to me or in front of me but by golly I am there - no longer for me, but for Him.

My hope is that by challenging myself in the gym I will begin to have a minor conversion experience and start to feel as though it is ok that I go there three to four times a week. No one will kick me out or say, "Forget it, Lady, you are out of here".

I may never be a real athlete, and you will not see me compete on America Ninja Warrior, but I can take good care of my temple and do so with honor.

That too is a way to be Catholic - Out Loud.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Beautiful Weekend

This past weekend was spent with the family members I will be traveling with this December. Our plan is to attend a commemorative celebration in honor of relatives killed by the Nazis in 1944. It is a difficult journey - the town, Ravarano, is small and in the mountain region of Castellano, Italy. It is going to take some maneuvering but we have been planning this for two years and we are determined.

I am going to try and track down the mayor of the town today. If I cannot get a name, I am going to contact one of the television stations. This might be fun for them, a kind of human interest story they like to do, and maybe we can get some better information before we start buying tickets.

We had such a lovely day.

I also had a great talk with my brother on Sunday. He has grown tremendously over the past five years and is a great example of what happens when one stops blaming others and pointing fingers and starts to take a firm look at how they have contributed to chaos and destruction. He gave me some great advice. I am going to take it. I am always looking for ways to improve and as long as the ways given to me do not require me to go against my moral and religious code, I am open to trying in order to achieve peace.

I miss my dog.

Other than that, everything is pretty great right now. I just am overwhelmed with the love and support I have received. I am encouraged by the people who tell me to keep going and keep trying. I am encouraged by those who, with love, have pointed out my errors.

All in all, I am one grateful sober Catholic woman today.

Thank you all for allowing me to be in your lives.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shaw's William Wallace MacDuff
Loyal friend and Companion
8/23/2006 - 7/7/2014

I will miss my little guy.  I am so glad for the time I had with him!  I am really grateful to the hard work done by the doctors, vet techs and all the people who worked so hard to save him.  

Thank you, Lord, for the chance to learn and grow and become closer to You in grief.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

For Love of God and Dog - part DEUX

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.
2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.
2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

My Scottish Terrier is now the most expensive dog on the block, but it looks like he has turned the corner and is on the mend.  He is still in the hospital, and will probably remain there one more night, and he still has a lot of healing to do but he is on the mend, and for that I am grateful.

I love that little guy and take darn good care of him.  Because of this little episode I am back in debt - not an unreasonable debt, but a debt none the less - but the reality is if this had happened to a dog that was 12 or 13 years old, he would not have been put through the operation and the last three days of horrible recovery.

Something else happened during the past few days and I am going to try and share this as best I can.  I am still processing the spiritual growth I have experienced so forgive me if I sound silly or distorted. Suffice to say, it makes sense to me.

When Duffy got sick, my first prayers were basically, "Please, God, not Duffy.  He is all I have - I am all alone and he is it".

During the first 24 hours, when things were so gloomy and I was trying to be strong, to prepare myself for losing him, I came to realize what my sin  - what my part - in all this is and it was a little embarrassing.

I heard the voice of God in my heart and He said, "I love you".

That simple - that simple and complete.

"I love you".

It came to me that my attachment to my animal was a sin, if I put my love for him and my dependence upon him before my love and dependence on God.

Duffy is a creature.  God is the Creator.

My first loyalty has to be to God.

More importantly, it came to me that I am still way WAY too dependent upon the love of creatures - animal or human - and that when I pray, "Jesus, I trust in You" I am (essentially) lying because I am looking too much to the world for validation.

Even now, after 22 years of sobriety and becoming closer and closer to the Mind of the Church, I am still too darn concerned with what you think, with having creatures love me rather than relying upon the knowledge, the faith, that God Loves ME.

When that hit me, my prayer changed.  I gave Duffy to God.  I told God, "He is Your dog, he is Your creature.  If you want me to continue to be the steward of this creature, I will be that but only because You have that as Your plan for me.  But if You want this creature's life to end, I am OK with that as well, because I know You love me".  

I try to be as honest with God as I can…I told Him that I need His Grace and Strength to do this but I am willing to cooperate with Him in order to just stay focused on this:  His love is enough for me.

From that moment on, Duffy began to improve.

Duffy is not out of the woods yet and I may be saying good bye to him soon, but even if that happens I know what I was supposed to learn from all this craziness. 

I was supposed to learn to rely even more on God.

Thank you for the lesson, Lord.  Now please, help me to live up to it.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Love of God and Dog

Before anyone takes me to task may I simply state that I accept the Churches teachings on animals, our responsibility towards our good stewardship towards them and that they are not on the same plane as importance of creation as human beings.

I am, in other words, a Faithful Catholic.

That being said, I had a huge scare today because Duffy started vomiting and stopped eating. I had been told by his doctor that if that happened he was to be rushed in as soon as possible. Easy, unless it happens when I am at work which is 2 hours away from home and the only person in the house with him is my mom who does not have a car.

Easy, if it doesn't happen when the computer phone system goes down at work, two of the Records Management Systems start acting like a system one put together on a Commodore 64.

Easy, if you don't love your fur baby like he is your child because the five children you were destined to give birth to ended up waiting for you in heaven.

With all this happening at once I did what any level headed, Catechetically sound, professed lay Dominican would do.

I started to cry and called my brother. He called his son, Ryan and Ryan went and got Mom and Duffy, taking them both to the veterinarian who told us that the antibiotics I had been giving him should not be given to him on an empty stomach and sent us home free of charge because they had forgotten to tell me that bit of information.

Eventually, of course, I stopped crying long enough to take a phone call from my friend Laura. The call came as my level of anxiety and panic was rising and my first thought when I saw her name come up on my caller ID was "Oh no, she is going to want me to take her service commitment or something'.

I took the call because I have been taught to take calls no matter how I feel or what I am doing, so even though I was convinced the call would mean extra work for me I took it.

Was I wrong? Of course I was - why would that not be a surprise?

Laura was calling me only to hear my voice - you know why?

Laura was told today that her brother has about 30 days to live.

To describe the way I felt as two inches tall is being kind. I immediately thought of my panic over my Scottish Terrier having gall bladder problems and thought, "you have no problems". Laura and talked about how fabulous it is to be sober and to be in the position of being able to support someone we love during the last leg of their earthly journey. We discussed how blessed she is because she has given her brother such an amazing gift - her sobriety. He does not have to worry about her any more and he knows he can go on to meet Jesus without having to worry about his little sister. We cried, we laughed at ourselves and we ended the call - and I realized my purpose was to ask my Catholic family to pray for her because she has a row to hoe ahead of her. What I have is a sick dog.

There is a big difference.

Every day God reveals to me more and more how I have to learn to trust Him. Every day, thinking I have given Him my whole heart and soul, I get an example of how much deeper I need to go, how much more of myself I must be willing to hand over to Him without reservation.

My dog is my fur baby; of that, there is no doubt. I love him and do not want to lose him.

But Jesus Christ is my Lord, my Savior, my Creator, my reason for being. If He ever stopped thinking about me I would cease to exist - not die. CEASE to BE.

He loves me. He suffered and died for me. He founded a Church for me. For me He instituted the Sacraments.

He deserves my full love and attention, so I am going to try and remember that the next time I want to panic because my dog is sick.

Lord, let me remember who and what I am…..but more importantly? Let me remember who and what HE is because when I forget that, when my dog becomes more important the God, I will be lost again.

Oh, and thank you for all your prayers - St Francis, pray for us!