Practical Lenten Activity

In my last blog on Unconventionally Practical Spiritual Resolutions, I mentioned I would share a very helpful activity I am doing for Lent this year.

I adapted the idea from a blog written by my friend Dr. Lynn Jones called “Simplify by Saying No”. I encourage you to read her blog.

As a member of Regnum Christi, we identify our root sin and develop a “program of life” to overcome it by focusing the development of an opposing virtue. One of the two virtues I am working on is “simplicity”, so Lynn’s post immediately caught my eye. (You can see what a problem I have with simplicity as I could not just choose one virtue to work on, but rather have two!)

Reading Lynn’s blog made me realize that I don’t have a problem saying “no”, I just don’t want to say “no”. There are so many things I want to do. However, this gets me into a jam because without realizing it, the too many things on the plate put me into crisis mode almost all of the time.

Lynn’s provides a visual aide by showing Stephen Covey’s box listing the four quadrants that categorize all of a person’s activities. Quadrant 1 is for activities that are important and urgent. Quadrant 2 is for activities that are important and not urgent. Quadrant 3 is for activities that are not important and urgent. Lastly, quadrant 4 are for activities that are not important and not urgent.

We are to spend most of our time in Quadrant 1 and 2. Lynn points out we must balance our time between Quadrant 1 and 2 each day or we will always be in crisis mode. When we aren’t able to achieve this balance it means it is time to start saying “no”.

Bingo! She nailed me.

So, to develop a new habit this Lent that will allow me to be more present for God and the people in my life, I created a modified form to help me apply this principle. I am using it each day so I can visualize easily my Quadrant 1 and 2 activities. So far, it has been a very useful tool to helping me think a few more days ahead.

Since using this system, there have been moments when I was not pressured by some deadline that I was not quite sure what to do with myself!

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: If you think you might benefit from using this tool, download the form from the members only section here. Click on “Blogs” link then go to the section on Simplicity Blog and enter the password Quadrant1&2.

“Relaxing” in the Hot Tub

I felt refreshed and excited. I just finished swimming laps in time to have a few minutes in the hot tub to unwind before heading off to the rest of my busy day. As I was going towards the hot tub, a man in his seventies was climbing out. He showed me the secret to getting the bubbler to work again.

As I saw down, he asked me if I swam in high school. We talked about the high school I attended. Then he shared that he swam in college in the 1950s. He went on to talk about getting older and a variety of other topics, one after the other. While I enjoyed his initial friendly exchange, as he continued to talk I started to wonder when he would stop. I just wanted a few minutes of solitude and peace. I was having a hard time hearing him over the gushing water and kept having to lean forward to hear, asking him to repeat what he said.

Right before I needed to get out, he got up and left. I am not positive that he might have picked up on my desire to be left alone. I wondered if he had because of some subtleties in the way he left. I felt a little bad if that was the case.

On some level, my interaction with that man reminded me of times with my kids, especially when they were in various developmental stages when they talked a lot and asked a lot of questions– often when I was trying to concentrate on something else. It occurred to me that perhaps the young and the old have a desire to connect with others more, that they live in the present moment more, and that I could learn a lot from them.

My observation is that people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are much more task-oriented and geared towards accomplishing tasks, reaching goals, and getting things done. Yet, in their personal lives, they are often surrounded by parents and kids in the connecting phase. These active people crave and genuinely need time to recharge, have time for solitude and time to think without being interrupted.

So who is more on track? The elderly and the young or those active 30s,40s, 50s people? The answer is “both”. Yes, they are both on track. We must be both willing to attend to those who want to connect with us and honor others when they need their solitude. The trick is to know what time is what. But there really is no trick. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Holy Spirit will gently guide us through those delicate situations.

People who never set boundaries for self care and rejuvenation can be spiritually off-balance and can potentially become mentally ill; so can people who always opt for the selfish option. On the other hand, not learning to read body language and develop emotional intelligence that would indicate someone needs to be left alone or at least spoken to for a little bit rather than a long time can lead to future relationship difficulties. It is important to develop prudence, self-control and sensitivity when we approach others, and not let our own needs spill over and blind us to the needs of others.

Catholic Women’s Healthy Relationship Tip: Use the compass that God gave you, the Holy Spirit, to discern times when God wants you to stretch or maintain greater sensitivity and self-control with others.

Accepting the Good and the Bad News of Life

It’s that time of the year again. It is time for the fun annual mammogram. I don’t complain too much; I would take a mammogram over a pap smear any day.

The first mammogram I had resulted in a callback and follow-up mammograms every six months. I was hoping this one would be a little less eventful.

A skilled technician makes all the difference with getting a mammogram. This gal was good. I was in and out with little pinching and discomfort.

Then I got the call.

“Mrs. Weber, the doctor would like to do a follow-up mammogram. Can you come in right away, please?”

That’s when I started having my conversations with God.

“Okay, Lord, you know what I can handle and what I can’t. You know the responsibilities I have to my spouse and kids. They need me, Lord. I really don’t want to have breast cancer. But, if that is Your will, I will accept it and I know You will give me and my family everything we need to get through this. But I’m really, really hoping this isn’t what you have in store for me.”

This continued on as I went in for the second appointment.

I was impressed with the good bedside manner of the nurses in the clinic. They seemed to be very sensitive to this group of “mammogram called-back ladies”. I had to take several different shots as the nurse shuffled back and forth to the doctor viewing the images.

In my last callback to the examining room, the nurse explained that I have a dense, muscular type of breast tissue that is often difficult to read in the mammograms. She said the doctor wants to keep an eye on me and see me again in six months. Oftentimes, the deposits the doctor sees resolve themselves over time.

“Thank you, God!”


Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Know that God will not give you more than you can handle while accepting both the good and bad news in life.

Finishing Strong in the Marathon That Counts

I have a friend from church who is a great mom. You often see her and her three stair step boys tooling around the parish, the school, Kids for Jesus, or the baseball field. Recently, I saw her after mass. Someone had told me she just completed her first marathon in Chicago, so I asked her how it went.

“Well….it went okay.”

I could sense the disappointment in her voice, “What do you mean?”

She went on to say that she had finished the race, but fell very far short from the time she had hoped to have. She said it was a challenge to find time to run the kind of distances she needed to run, and she often cut her training times short because of kids’ activities. She said she didn’t feel as prepared going into the race as she wanted to be. I could tell that my friend was not complaining, but just disappointed with the outcome.

I could relate. I was finding the same struggle in consistently working out the recommended time for training for my Triathlon Cup Series this year (link to 1st triathlon blog).

At times like these, it is always important to ask, “What race are you really running?” We are all in an individual marathon that really matters. This marathon will determine whether we spend the rest of our eternity with God and loving people or not.

The real marathon of our life is won by doing the little things right in all of our relationships to the best of our ability. Being a parent and having the honor of shaping a soul for eternity is one of the most important vocations we could have.

The beauty of motherhood, whether it be biological motherhood, spiritual motherhood, or both is that the choices it demands purify us. One of the important lessons it teaches is for us not to get bogged down in perfectionism. At the same time, it does not give us an excuse not to reach for the stars.

So, ladies, let’s all finish strong in the marathon that really counts.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationship Tip: Make a goal that will challenge you and pursue it light of your vocation.

Why Not Tri?

I was never what I would consider an athlete in junior high, high school or college. I grew up in a time when women’s sports were just becoming popular and socially acceptable. My perception, and to some degree the view of the culture at the time where I attended school, was that it was only okay for women to be in sports if she was really good at the sport. Otherwise, it wasn’t considered that feminine. For some girls, pompons, cheerleading, or maybe volleyball and tennis were okay.

Looking back I regretted not trying competitive sports. The good news is that I did start to get into exercise and physical fitness towards the middle to end of high school. This carried on into my adult life.

Several years ago, I participated in a class offered at the Andover YMCA. The class was called, “Why Not Tri?” It was to teach people who had never done a triathlon to train and compete for an indoor sprint triathlon at the YMCA. The spirit triathlons are short and can be completed in less than an hour. They consist of swimming 20 laps, 6 miles on a stationary bike, and a 2 mile run.

As a group we met a couple of times a week for coaching, clinics, and group training. Each individual did the other four weekly workouts on his or her own. Doing my first sprint triathlon was truly invigorating. I was hooked. It also gave me a channel for athletic competition that I missed during my youth.

I know I was not alone in my enthusiasm with my first triathlon experience. Last weekend, I saw one of my old coaches when I was in the pool waiting to start my race. I was in the same heat and lane with a person from her current “Why Not Tri?” training group. To my right was a very quiet, focused, and a bit nervous gentleman competing, for what I believe, was his first triathlon.

I watched him complete the final laps of his run with family and friends cheering him on. I could see the pride and confidence that comes with having enough self-esteem to invest in oneself. I saw the humility necessary to be trained to learn new things. And I saw perseverance and the willingness to rely on something or someone bigger than yourself to get you through until the end.

Hmm…that kind of sounds a lot like what we are trying to do in our spiritual journey as Catholics in this thing called life.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Set a goal big or small, get someone to help hold you accountable, and work with God each day to achieve it.