Mindful and Intentional

Kon-Mari is all the craze (thanks, Netflix). Minimalism is everywhere (thanks, Pinterest and Instagram). Thrifting is chic (as it should be!) and living slowly, mindfully, and purposefully is on trend (again, as it should be).

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may already know that I began this process myself by deleting about half the people I was “friends” with on Facebook and then deleting my Facebook app all together. I also made a new Twitter account and now follow mostly #CatholicTwitter accounts. I’ve been unfollowing a lot of accounts on Instagram and following those that bring joy and meaning to my life, and I try to be mindful about what I post on any of my own social media accounts.

There’s many reasons and benefits for all of this. I’m trying to live more minimally. Yes, I was one of those people that binge-watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix show. I began applying it to many areas of my life. Sparking joy should apply to ALL areas of our lives. We can declutter our homes, our minds, and our hearts. It’s literally good for us, healthy and healing.

There are several accounts I now follow on Instagram that have an emphasis on more mindful and intentional living. I will share them on my Instagram story for anyone that is interested!

They’ve also introduced me to a concept called slow fashion. I had honestly never heard of it, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. Fast fashion follows the practically weekly changes in fashion trends and supplies tons of options at low prices so consumers can, and will, buy more more more. WalMart and Target are big contenders here. The thing about fast fashion is that it’s not always ethical. What do I mean by that?

Well, I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one documentary about the working conditions of those who make garments for WalMart. When you really think about those prices, it makes sense. Those pair of shorts are just $12? But, how much does it actually cost to make them? I mean, just stroll over to the fabric department to see how much different fabrics cost. Plus thread. Plus buttons. Plus zippers. Plus time and energy put into cutting and sewing those shorts. Now how much do they cost?

Listen, I’m as much a bargain shopper as anyone else. I have a limited budget I can spend on clothes. My personal closet has several WalMart and Target items. This is a new concept to me. I also don’t want to seem like I’m talking down those that shop at these stores; they are legitimate options for those that have to shop on a tight budget. I’m slowly beginning to shift my perspective on how I shop and am not here to judge or tell anyone else how they should shop.

As a Christian, I see my calling to shop responsibly. Christians are called to care for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Since following accounts that have taught me more about slow fashion and shopping more ethically, I am now shifting gears in how I approach shopping.

As I am minimizing my wardrobe, I also see value in spending more on a higher quality item that will last a long time over stocking up on cheaper items that will need to be replaced more often. For example, I have two pairs of jeggings from WalMart that I love and wear often, but my first pair (less than 6 months old) is already beginning to fray in areas. Whereas my more expensive Victoria’s Secret leggings I’ve had for years are in great condition.

Shopping ethically on a budget can be difficult, but it’s not impossible, and it’s certainly worth it. I’m new to this, so I recommend this blog post from Just a Handmaiden. On her instagram, she has highlights for her OOTD and on her blog, she talks about modestly, slow fashion, and shopping ethically. (Like I said before, I will also share some other accounts in my Instagram stories).

A big step in my journey of living intentional is coming up in June. I will be participating in 30 Days to a Hobbit at Heart by Tea with Tolkien.

Here’s what that entails:

This summer will be a summer of self-improvement and growth. This first day is being celebrated with a blog post! (Yes, I may be in bed while writing it, but hey! It’s summer break AND it’s not even 9 AM yet!)

I plan to write more about this topic as I go on this journey. I will definitely write more about ethically shopping as I learn more about it. I also hope to write about my Hobbit journey at the end of June!

Please comment below to share your experiences. If you have recommendations for ethically sourced clothing stores, share those as well! Thanks!

To Mother Mary on Mother’s Day

mother mary

Dear Mary,

Sweet Mother, Queen of Heaven

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your yes.

Thank you for bringing your Son into this world. Thank you for being my guiding light to his most Sacred Heart.

Thank you for your warm comfort within your mantle. Thank you for your love.

Thank you for being my Mother, my model, my most loving companion.

Love, Julia

Anniversary Post!

Today is my WordPress 1 year anniversary!

That seems like a pretty big milestone to me. I haven’t written as much as I would have liked to at this point, but I have a lot of ideas for future posts. After my last post, Responding to “The Call”, I have been considering taking my blog in a Christian-focused direction.

The one thing I have struggle most with in regards to writing posts for this blog is finding the “direction” or “theme” I wanted my posts to have. As I am working on growing in my Catholic faith, I think writing a Catholic blog will be perfect for me. I am researching topics I find interesting and learning more about Catholicism every day, so why not write about it?

I am excited to see what comes of this next year of blogging. Thank you for being a part of this journey thus far and I hope you will continue to enjoy what I write!

Responding to “The Call”

Hi, my name is Julia and I am a cradle Catholic.

I’ve been Catholic all of my life. I’ve never left the Church. I’ve never “experimented” with my faith. I’ve always been Catholic and because of that I think I have really taken it for granted. But I’ll get back to that later.

As a Catholic with over 12 years of private Catholic education under my belt, I grew up hearing that God calls all of us to respond to a vocation. This vocation could be anything, but I always most associated it with being called to the religious life. I mean, how often do we hear an amazing, inspiring story about a priest or sister and how they knew they were being called to religious life. And, oh, how I wanted that neon sign call, that obvious “Hey, God wants you to do THIS” call.

Of course, not every priest or sister or other religious person had that kind of call. Not even every saint had that kind of sign from God. But that’s what I wanted. That’s what I felt like I needed. “Hey God, please just hit me over the head with whatever it is you want me to do so I can just know. Thanks”.

From middle school all the way through college, my favorite subject in school was English. I love all things literature. I even love grammar. I went out of my way to take extra English classes in high school and college any chance I could. It made sense to me senior year that I would pursue a degree in creative writing. Then one of my best friends at the time told me a story about her sister, who is a Speech-Language Pathologist. And wow. It changed everything. Without even learning more about what it would entail, I applied to be in the Communication Disorders program at Truman State University. I enjoyed my classes, made amazing friends, and learned more than I could have ever imagined. After a while, though, I began to wonder, is this really what I’m “called” to do?

I hadn’t really put that much thought into it. Being an SLP would pay way more than a freelance poet. I valued financial security. I knew that was something I wanted for my future family. But had I really thought about it much more than that?

My great-grandfather passed away during finals week the first semester of my third year at Truman. It hit me hard and I felt a lot of guilt leaving family behind when I came back from winter break, so after three years at Truman, I transferred to Fontbonne University. And what did I do? I stayed in the same major, even though I had already been questioning it for some time, and a painful meeting with the head of the Communication Disorders department at Truman probably should have steered me in a different direction, but I was stubborn. I started this thing, I ought to finish it. Besides, how many more years of loans could I really stand? As an SLP, I could probably pay them off.

While at Fontbonne, again I had that nagging feeling. I stuck with the SLP program. I took the classes, worked in the clinic, did my observations. But every chance I could, I took a class on education. Was I being called to something else? Had I been mishearing God this whole time? I couldn’t possibly start over. Student loans, though.

I graduated from Fontbonne University in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. I am proud to say that. I’m not proud of the loans, but hey, I graduated! Am I going to grad school? No. Am I working in the Speech-Language Pathology field? Again, no.

Before I graduated, I started working at a daycare center, where I still work part-time. I have found that there is nothing I love more than watching little ones grow and learn. While this job doesn’t quite pay the bills like I wish it could, it is incredibly rewarding. That being said, I still needed to figure out what on earth my “vocation” is. “Hey, God. Still waiting”.

I took another part-time job, this time at a school. As of this week, I have been working at St. John Paul II Preparatory School for a year. Last year I was the 2nd grade teacher’s aide. This year I will be aiding both 3rd and 4th grade. The first week or two of this job, I didn’t know if I was going to like it at all. By the end of the first semester, I loved it. I love the kids, the teachers and staff, the families, and possibly most importantly, the faith.

Something I hadn’t realized I was lacking in was a faith community. Truman had an amazing Catholic Newman Center that kept me going in some of the darkest times, but I lost that when I left. JPII also have something special about it that Truman’s Newman Center didn’t have.

JPII is a very classic and traditional faith community, something I hadn’t really had since elementary school. Even then, the “old fashioned” tradition didn’t go much beyond the hymns and the few old ladies that still were veils to mass (something else I will be coming back to). At JPII, we teach the kids Latin and sing the mass parts in Latin. We even have a Latin mass once a year. We have mass every other week. Several of the teachers wear veils to mass (even young ones). We kneel to receive communion on our tongues. There is this incredible sense of reverence at JPII that honestly can be hard to find these days. It was something I didn’t even realize I was missing, something I was desperately needing.

Since one of the first masses I attended at JPII, I have been fascinated by these young women wearing veils. That seemed like such an outdated thing. Why were they doing it? Like I said before, growing up I was used to seeing a few older ladies wearing them at mass, but I always thought it was just because they were old, and old habits die hard. But now I was in a totally different realm. Women who grew up in a post-Vatican II Church were veiling at mass.

For months, I honestly only really thought about it when we were at mass. Beyond that, it was out of sight, out of mind. Until last week. The teachers had a special mass, in preparation for the new school year (that starts tomorrow!!). Again, I was in a room with women wearing veils (even one near my age). I finally started to get the picture. “OK, God. I’ll Google it”.

And so I did. Immediately I found Veils by Lily. I found the FAQ page and read every word. I downloaded the free printable fact sheet. I scrolled and scrolled through the site. Read the blog posts. Less than 24 hours later, I found myself doing something I never in a million years would have seen myself doing. I bought a veil. A veil to wear to church. What?!

OK, OK, what does this have to do with “Responding to ‘The Call'”? I think the kind of obvious theme here is that I’m not very good at listening to God. Or even hearing Him. I don’t know what I am doing with my life. Honestly, no idea. But a little less than a year ago, God began calling me. No, it wasn’t the “What is my vocation?” call I had been hoping for (well, I don’t think it was, but I’ve learned to never assume I know God’s plan). God was calling me to take a step outside of my comfort zone (nice and vague, thanks, God).

OK, so what does that mean? Where does that take me? I had already taken on a new job in a new place with new people. What else do You want from me? Well, a few months after starting this new job, I learned about a direct sales company called Color Street (which I wrote about here). Could this be it? I thought about it for MONTHS. Could this really be what God is calling me to do? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try. I took the leap. I joined an awesome company with an awesome product that I love. I met awesome people, built a community, and I had fun. But it was also hard. And I struggled. And I felt like I was doing everything wrong. “OK, God. Really? What am I supposed to be doing right now?”

Well, after almost 5 months with Color Street, I came to the conclusion that while, yes, God was definitely telling me that I need to step out of my comfort zone, this was not what He meant. Last night I decided I need to take a step away from Color Street. I do hope to some day go back to that awesome team I got to work with, but for now, I need to walk away.

That call to step out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t a vocational call. It was something much smaller and more personal. It was a call to wear that veil. That may not seem like a huge leap from one’s comfort zone, but when you are as reserved and introverted as I am, it is kind of a big deal. It is something people will notice, which means (gasp) people might actually want to talk to me. While the thought of being questioned about my decision to veil at mass does make me a little nervous, ever since making this decision (and purchase), I have felt this overwhelming sense of peace that I have been searching for, for years. I am excited about veiling at mass. I am embarking on a new spiritual journey to bring me closer to God, and maybe even bring others closer to Him, too.

I would like to ask that you pray for me as I take on this new journey. If you have any questions about my decision to wear a veil at mass, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am still learning about it myself, but am happy to share what I know and what lead me to this decision more in depth.

We are all called to something. Yes, I am still trying to figure out my true vocational call. But some of the things God calls us to are much smaller than that. It may be hard to hear Him, but with an open heart, eventually all things become clear.

February Update – Thank you!!!

I just wanted to post a quick little update!

First, and most importantly, thank you so, so much to my followers and everyone that has liked even just one of my posts. It always makes me feel good to see a notification after posting. I recently reached a small but exciting benchmark:

I officially have over 100 likes on my blog! It’s not much, but it’s benchmarks like these that really motivate me.

With Lent coming up soon, I hope to get some longer posts on here. In the Catholic Church, Lent is a very important time of year. It can jokingly be thought of as a second chance at those failed New Year’s resolutions, but in reality, it can be a time of great spiritual growth. Sometimes it takes a lot of work and guidance, but it can be an amazing time of year.

When I have a chance to sit at my computer, I will write in more depth about my experiences with Lent and what it means to me. This year, I plan to work on my gratitude, an often forgotten about virtue.

Again, thank you for being a part of this blogging journey with me! I hope my followers are enjoying the trip thus far. I look forward to hitting some more benchmarks this year!

Currently Reading

For the most part, I read fiction novels. I am a big fan of Stephen King in particular. As much as I love his books and stories, however, I’m finding my TBR pile continuously growing and myself not branching out much. One of my goals this year is to change that and expand my literary horizons. As I read new books, I will share my experiences and opinions here. I think this will be a good way to push myself to read more and to critically think about what I’m reading. Plus, it’s always fun to share new books with people.

At the beginning of the school year I started a new job at a Catholic school as a grade school assistant. All of the grade school teachers were talking about a book by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan born Catholic. It was a big deal because she was coming to host a retreat at the home parish of the grade school dean. I kept hearing them talk about how impactful and amazing her story was, and after the retreat, the dean couldn’t stop talking about Immaculée and how much meeting her impacted her. I wanted to see what all the talk was about for myself, so I borrowed the book, Left to Tell, from my mom.

This book is about how Immaculée survived the Rwandan holocaust that took place during their civil war in 1994. She and several other women were hidden and locked inside a tiny bathroom for 91 days, not allowed to speak or move, barely surviving on tiny scraps of food and sips of water. Throughout those three months she held tightly to her father’s rosary and her faith in God. All of her family save one brother were murdered. She now travels the world serving others and telling her story.

I’m only about halfway through the book. She is still trapped in the tiny bathroom. Each page is more heartbreaking than the last, but her hope in God is inspiring. When things go wrong, it can be so easy to turn away from a lifelong faith. It isn’t always easy to find comfort and peace in scriptures that are thousands of years old. Immaculée held true for 91 miserable days; days most of us can’t even begin to fathom suffering through.

I know there is at least one other book she has written and I plan to read it when I finish this one. It is heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. As I’ve read this, I’ve felt joy, sorrow, pain, and even angry. This emotional journey will take you through it all. If you enjoy any kind of religious testimonials, this is a book for you.

Again, the title is Left to Tell and it was written by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. A portion of proceeds from her book sales go to her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which supports Rwandan orphans.

Welcome to December

It’s barely past 8 pm and I am so ready for bed. Instead, though, I thought I’d say hello to the people of WordPress!

It is only December 5th, but it seems like Christmas has been in full swing for about a month! December really came roaring in for me – there were three birthdays to celebrate the very first weekend. I do not have a single weekend not already filled in on the calendar. It is going to be nonstop for the next 5 weeks or so. The weather has been uncharacteristically warm, which just makes this whole month even more confusing. I’m not complaining about that, though! There’s nothing I’m dreading more than having to do recess duty in anything below 40°.

December is also the start of Advent, an important time of year on the Catholic Church Calendar. As December is such a busy time for me, and Advent is a time of waiting and reflection, I hope to use my free time to blog about what Advent means to me and to Catholics across the world. I wasn’t able to post last weekend, but maybe I can make it an every Friday thing. I’m also setting a goal for myself to post a photography blog by Wednesday.

I want to thank all of those that take the time to read my posts. I know I haven’t yet really found a direction in mu blog, but so far I’m really enjoying. I started this with the main goal to just get back into the habit of writing. While it’s not quite yet really a “habit”, I am definitely thinking about it more.

Stay tuned for another post soon and thank you for stopping by! Happy Holidays!