Resolutions for the New Year

New Years Blog Post
January 31, when a person’s mind turns to resolutions. Or at least mine does. 

 I’m thinking/hoping/praying that if I right them down and try to make weekly (or monthly, undecided as of yet) accountability posts then maybe, just maybe, I’ll follow through this year.

I’m breaking it down in to sections, first up, food.

Eating

I’m going to kick off my New Year with a Whole 30. I’ve started these before but I’ve never committed to 30 full days because half way through I always get derailed, however, I have nothing upcoming that could potentially throw me off and I’ve already got a week and a half of a meal plan done and I bought a new cookbook I can’t wait to try (Paleo Takes 5). I’m short on time, a lot, and I hate using tons and tons of ingredients. Also, I’m going to try to get in the habit of batch cooking now that I consistently have weekends off.

Next, as it often goes hand in hand with food, exercise.

Exercise

I was doing a bootcamp at my local Y, but then with Christmas and changing jobs, I sort of lost momentum part of the way though. So, I’m signing up for the same bootcamp’s January – April session and plan on committing. It’s only 2 times a week for an hour so I would need to fit in at least one other work out. I’m currently looking at Sunday. I have money budgeted that I’d be able to purchase 5 sessions with a personal trainer a month, but that wouldn’t be until after January.

Which brings me to my next resolution:

Financial

I’m committing to a Gail Vaz-Oxlade budget. I’ve already made one and it balances and all that jazz, so now, it’s following through. This will likely be the most difficult resolution for me to keep because I can get a little impetuous when it comes to small purchases here and there (mostly Tim Hortons, or books). So planning meals and snacks is key. Come March or April (depending on how the weather goes) I’ll need to buy some clothing for spring. I did do a capsule wardrobe for winter because even though I live in an area that has fairly distinct seasons, my wardrobe was never seasonal and I was always cold in the winter or warm in the summer and I also purged a bunch so I no longer have much in the way of spring or summer clothes.

I’m finally in a position with my new job, that I’m making enough more a month that I can start to work towards paying down some debt. Previously, my jobs were essentially allowing me to survive but it was impossible to think about things like saving or debt repayment. I have a pretty hefty student loan (currently I’m deferring payments) and a credit card and my new laptop, thankfully, I’ve have very little consumer debt with high interest. My computer is on a fixed payment schedule and will be paid off in June. My credit card will be paid off shortly after once I get my computer paid off. Once those are both paid off, I’ll have to sit down and rejig the budget to work out student loan payments.

The budget also accounts for saving and an emergency fund. (I am also considering a 52 week money challenge, but if I do that I’ll likely do it in reverse or, just do it “bingo style” where I commit to an amount for a week even if it isn’t the amount that is specified for that week).

Reading

I have a lot of books, and I haven’t read all of them. My goal for this year is to read more. I’ve been getting better at reading more in the last year but I want to keep this resolution going forward. Just off the top of my head I can think of at least 6 books that I’ve started and not finished that litter my bedside table. On the Shoulders of Hobbits, Salt, Sugar, FatRooted in LoveCatholicismMoby Dick,  and , not to mention the books that I’ve been gifted over this holiday season including: Recall Abortion, How Can the Dream Survive if we Kill all the Children, and the Loser Letters.  I have countless other books as well that I’ve never read or are half read. So, I’d like to finish them all. None of these books are very long (with the exception of Moby Dick) but they are mostly non-fiction and are quite dense so they aren’t quick reads. My goal would be to finish 2 books a month.

Other

My other resolution is probably the one that will be the hardest. Reducing screen time. This will also help with the read more books goal, but I sometimes find myself in a funk when I get home from work that leads to mindless eating and wasted hours. Over Advent I committed (and was mostly successful) in shutting off my computer and phone at 7:30pm. The phone was harder than the computer, but I would definitely like to keep up that resolution until it becomes habit.

Another plus I noticed during Advent, is that when my screen time was reduced I prayed more, which is always something that I know I should be doing more of but can never actually seem to do.

And that’s it. None of these are particularly earth shattering or difficult but I’ve got a tendency to be extremely lazy so the goal for the New Year is to eat healthy, move more, and watch less.

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Open Letter to My MLA

Today I wrote a letter to my local member of legislative assembly (MLA), he belongs to a prochoice party and I certainly didn’t vote for him, but the pro-life MLAs are trying to get a debate open before the Liberal Leader of New Brunswick unilaterally and behind close doors makes decisions that will be to the very detriment of my province. 

I want to talk to you a little bit about the abortion issue and how New Brunswick is currently handling it. I know I’m probably just one voice and that most of your supporters are encouraging you to support Brian Gallant’s plans.

I’m in my 20s and I firmly believe that I have no right to an abortion and that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms supports this belief. I assume you are familiar with the Canadian Charter? It states that all Canadians have the right to “life, liberty and security of person”. Not having access to abortion doesn’t trample on these rights. However, more than just incorrectly using the charter to support an unnecessary procedure I’d like you to consider the economic implications of funding abortion.

Paying for an elective procedure is something the New Brunswick government can ill-afford. Our Medicare system is already straining because young people are leaving New Brunswick and older people are retiring. The Telegraph-Journal reported that funded abortions would cost approx. $500,000 to $700,000 additional each year. Where is this money going to come from? Is New Brunswick going to go further into debt for an elective and, in the majority of cases, completely unnecessary procedure?

Population growth triggers economic growth. If younger people were encouraged to stay in New Brunswick and to start families and work in this province think of how much good that could for New Brunswick. If New Brunswick became a province that fostered a culture of life the economy would recover. However, this can only happen if we don’t use the little tax money New Brunswick currently has available to fund a procedure that literally kills the future of the province.

I know that pro-abortion advocates (who are the minority in this province ) like to paint a doom and gloom outlook for maternal health if abortion were to become unavailable, but the fact is, they have no proof. The coat hanger statistics that are often quoted were fabricated by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the 1 in 3 women have abortion statistic is also a fabrication. The fact is that in country with no abortion access maternal death rates are lower (the Republic of Ireland, for example, reported 6 deaths per 100 birth in 2013 while Canada has 45) and more women die from legal abortion than illegal abortion (the CDC recently released a review of abortion in the United States and it showed that from 1973 to 2010 421 women died from legal abortion and in the same time frame 56 died from illegal).

My point is that abortion doesn’t make sense. Economically it does more harm than good, it causes a higher number of deaths than pregnancy (not to mention the well documented post-abortive syndrome and substance abuse that occurs in women that have had abortions), and the Charter of Rights does not require abortion to be publically funded.

I just ask that you consider facts and not rhetoric when it comes to the abortion debate in New Brunswick. I ask that you consider science (new DNA from the moment of conception and a heart beat by 6 weeks in utero). I ask that you consider the economy and the future of a province you clearly care about.

I chose to move to this province bucking the trend of most people my age who move away from New Brunswick, please vote against publically funded abortion if you are given the chance. It’s a better choice for New Brunswick.

Arleen Spenceley is my Spirit Animal

Chastity is for Lovers: Happy, single and (still) a Virgin.

Arleen Spenceley‘s book is a book I wish I had in high school.

It’s a book I wish every person had to read in high school.
Catholics have a notoriously bad habit of equating chastity with abstinence and that is a problem because chastity is more than just not having sex until you are married. Chastity, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the “successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.

book quote 1

Chastity helps a person develop self-control. People are not their desires. People are bigger and better than their sex drives. Chastity isn’t a no. It’s a yes. A yes to a fuller and more complete existence. To paraphrase the catechism, a person can govern their passion and find peace or is governed by their passion and learns unhappiness. (CCC 2339)

I’m not as eloquent or as well-educated on the topic of chastity as Arleen is. I have 10 years of catholic education under my belt and the entire time I was in high school I was taught about not having sex until marriage because, pregnancy and STIs (although, they were still diseases and not infections when I was in school), but I was never taught any theology of the body or chastity. Heck, we didn’t even have a class set of Catechisms.

So ultimately, I’m just sad that Arleen’s book wasn’t around when I was in high school or university. Her book is a perfect balance between anecdotes and truth bombs. Chastity leads to more fulfilling relationships. It builds friendships based on virtue and common goals.

I really liked the discussion on virtuous friendships in the book. I had never heard of this concept before and it was kind of earth shattering. Friendships and relationships are not about what you can get from the other person, which I knew, and I knew the purpose of a marriage (a true marriage) is to bring your spouse closer to God, but it never dawned on me that this can be true for all of our friendships and each of our vocations.

book quote 2

I listened to a great podcast today with Arleen over at Fountains of Carrots and I’m not a podcast listener but I’m an unashamed Arleen Spenceley fangirl so I listened to this one, and during it she dropped this line and I just loved it:

arleen spenceley - quote

Chastity teaches us self-control. Vocations, when we follow God’s will in our life, teaches us self-giving and giving our lives back to God. Our lives are not our own, we were created with infinite value and specific purpose. Chastity helps to drown all of the noise and static to focus on the good and the important so we can know our true calling and purpose.

Chastity is the reason that some of us, even in our late 20s, are okay being single. Chastity is the reason that not being in a relationship is not a problem. I’ve met people my age or older who don’t know how to exist when not in a relationship and their entire life purpose is finding a boyfriend or “getting laid” and don’t understand why I don’t have the same desperation. Chastity makes your life more than just your sex drive. It helps you find a life that fills you, it helps you develop deep, intimate friendships, it helps you build a community.
More importantly, chastity, like modesty, help men and women be friends without expectations. Romantic relationships can grow out of chaste friendships but chastity is more than sex. Chastity is about life-affirming, life-sustaining, life-giving love.  And in the society we live today, it’s a message more women and men need to hear.

Chastity is a message that more people need to hear and that is why I’m so happy this book exists and I’m so glad it’s accessible to everyone. It’s not lofty or condescending, it’s a quick and easy read (took me less than 24 hours to read it) but it doesn’t sugar coat or hide the truth and that’s why it is important.

How I Advent – Not Alone Series vol. 3

I never really understood advent until a few years ago. I knew it was a time when there was a wreath with 3 purple & 1 rose (not pink) candle that symbolized the 4 weeks leading on up to Christmas. That was it. I didn’t understand that the weeks were themed.

I did know, however, that the pink candle was Gaudete Sunday and it was joyous day, which was why it was rose.  I didn’t really put any thought into celebrating advent though because to me it just meant 4 weeks til Christams which meant incessant Christmas music, busyness from shopping, and brokeness from money spendin’.  The advent season always left me kind of scrooge-y because I really don’t like Christmas music. I tend to find it insipid after hearing how it is the “most wonderful time of the year” on repeat.

Plus you get all the stinking Facebook memes about how to respond if someone says “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” and why everyone should just say thank you and wish “Happy Holidays”. (Incidentally, “holiday” is a shortening of “holy day” so…Christians win regardless).

But yes, I’m a total Scrooge about Christmas

Last year, I decided to be more intentional about my advent. I made a wreath which I lit on Sundays and I resolved to not listen to Christmas music until December 25th. I’d love to say I resolved to pray more but…nope.

This year, I’m once again resolving to not listen to Christmas music until Christmas. I have a playlist of mostly advent music but also some just mellow reflection music that is unrelated to any particular liturgical season.

When I’m out in public I wear headphones (not loud enough to drown out everything, but loud enough that I can’t hear music playing, and I always, always! take the headphones out before I talk to a cashier, etc.) I’m also an introvert who likes not to be caught up in conversations with people I don’t know so heaphones work well to avoid that as well.

I also made a resolution to turn off my computer and to stay off my phone from 7:30pm until I go to bed. This helps me both sleep better and gives me a chance to read. One of my goals is to read Pope Benedict’s Infancy Narratives, I haven’t started it yet (got distracted by Chastity is for Lovers) but Infancy Narratives is now my go to because I devoured Arleen‘s book in less than 24 hours.

 

I’m also trying to pray more.

 

I am really rambling. Wow.

 

I also made cover pages for each of the weeks in Advent with verses from the Old Mass readings. I’m not a Latin Mass only person (there are none in my area so I’ve never even been to one) but I do like the Gospel readings better. I also made one for Christmastide. Also in Latin, but that is just because I love singing Adeste Fideles. I feel like part of being intentional about Advent is making people aware that Advent isn’t a free for all that is all about Christmas. It’s about reminding people that we are to pause, take a breath and reflect. In our crazy insane world, it’s nice to have a reminder to shut down, pause and reflect and, hopefully, pray.

 

Advent Week 1Advent Week 2Advent Week 3Advent Week 4Christmas

I was going to add a list of all my advent tunes, but I feel like this is already pretty ramble-y.