Fitness. Highs. Lows.

Fitness Highs and Lows
July Highs
1. Did copious weights workouts. Kelley Coffey-Myers 30 Minutes to Fitness Weights and Jari Love’s Get Extremely Ripped, split onto the two thirty minute workouts. When work is busy and I am short of time…I need thirty minute workouts. But tough, effective ones. These two are great, especially for biceps and pecs and both are active so get your heart rate up for a cardio effect (think Body Pump classes).
2. Read some stuff on the whys of eating….parts of the Don’t Go Hungry For Life book, parts of Losing It In France, parts of Intuitve Eating.
What is intuitive eating?
“It is free of obsession. It acknowledges that our compulsions are due to biochemical or emotional reasons and any over- or under-eating is a clue to begin looking further as an opportunity for learning.”
3. I went to a dinner dance on Saturday night and I ate all three courses but only half of everything…it’s okay, others at the table liked my leftovers! Half my pumpkin soup, half the fish and vegetables, half the caramel apple tart. And practiced some moderation with alcohol! Woo hoo!
July Lows
1. I put on some kilos. Yes, that little, horrible, sneaky weight trip. I realize that for me it’s not enough to try to be intuitive, to be honest ….less intuition and more self discipline seem to be the ticket here. I mean, the feel good stuff is good is but I need plans and action. I’m just that kind of person. Hence my moderation at the dinner dance (see above) and my moderation all weekend. Go girl!
2. Not enough cardio. In line with the above, I realized that I need more cardio. Tough love. The last two days I have been doing those walking and jogging workouts, 45 minutes. I kind of like those endorphins and I need that cardio to lose that weight. Your mileage may vary but this works for me. And changing it up.
3. I hate my body. There, I said it. Not following a plan makes me feel fat, and makes me actually fat…those kilos I mentioned above. My skinny jeans fit but I look fat in them. My abs have gone to hell. See what happens when I don’t watch what I eat…whereas two days of cardio and A Plan make me feel less fat… Sure I haven’t lost weight yet, weight loss is slow for me, I know I am always in this for life and I am not after fast weight loss or a perfect body…but I feel more in control with that sensible eating plan. An “I’ve got this covered” feeling!
So there you have it. My July fitness post.
I’ve brushed myself off, thinking positively, dragged out some old mottoes, created some new.
“I’ve lost 40 kg in the last, a few kgs now won’t be hard.” No, that one doesn’t work anymore. feel like a failure.
” I take care of myself.” Yes, that’s a new one but a good one. A reminder when I want to turn to food.
” What I want most, WIWM.” Yep, that still works. I really want to be healthier, look better in my clothes, not avoid the mirror when I’m wearing my skinny jeans or getting dressed.
” It’s not an option INO.” From Secrets of a Former Fat Girl. And, yes, it’s not an option to drop the plan, I’m not like other people who can eat or not eat and not worry. I have a history of eating disorders so their eating and exercise habits are not an option for me.
And – ” I don’t do that any more.” No, I don’t. Or I tell myself I don’t. Don’t eat emotionally, for example. Don’t expect perfection. Don’t make it too hard or too easy on myself.
I don’t.
Do you have any July fitness highs and lows?
religion, Unschooling

Two Days..or..What do unschoolers do with their days?

Two Days
“I will attempt, day by day, to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own!” – St. Gabriel Possenti
And there are times, daily times, ordinary times, when doing God’s will is doing just that…just the ordinary.
Unschooling this week has been ordinary and far from ordinary.
And I strive to balance my paid work, that which I do for the good of the family, with my work as a mother of young adults and a Homeschooling mother, responsible for an unschooling fifteen year old. Because although we might not be doing school we are educating. And kids, homeschooled kids, even home schooled teens, need time.
So, I try to break my will into pieces. And enjoy our unschooling days.
Two different days.
One a day of outings…upon my return from morning work, we discuss the saint for the day and the day’s events. Let’s go to the city!
I take my iPad for I know that I have work for Kumon. The kids read… talk… and listen to music in the car. We walk through Hyde Park, heads down, hoods on, hands in pockets, slumped against the rain. We split up..two of us to a bookstore, two to look at clothes, one to wander on his own. I check out perfumes on the way..
I work , sitting amongst books at the bookstore. I have a long telephone conference call. I look briefly at two books with a son and we all gather again for lunch in a food court. And discussion.
It is this discussion that educates. Be it on our morning, our books, our thoughts, our food.
Before we rush home. Me to afternoon work and some of the kids to finish decorating our Hat Cake.
And our outings close with Mass and the St Anthony novena.
The next day is different. More at home.
Perhaps more ordinary.
But unschooling is never really ordinary.
I work morning and afternoon shifts. One son works. One son teaches guitar in the evening, to students at their house and to his younger brother and a friend at our house. Another son takes the youngest and friends to drama class, and picks them up again. I teach Catechism to year two in the local school…and so results a discussion on the beatitudes and on being nice, that ubiquitous nice. Over coffee with a visitor.
And card games. And writing. And reading. And junk mail delivery. And mum cooks a late dinner after work, to have over episodes of Merlin with a friend.
Two days. Different. But oriented towards the day by day. That is what makes a life. An education. Day by day. Little by little.

Do unschoolers set goals?

Do unschoolers set goals?

That has been our discussion at the Unschooling Catholics blog and email list. Check out our post on BHAGs and on living and learning alongside, leaning on that truck.

You know, sometimes we set goals or share visions and dreams. Sometimes we set ourselves targets and deadlines. And sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants.

I think both are valid.

They just suit different seasons of life.

Always being goal oriented can mean that we feel a trifle driven.

Now, driven can be good. Can keep us focused on that vision, can keep us on the straight and narrow so to speak.

Sometimes, however, we can concentrate so much on the goal that we lose sight of the passes, the twists, the turns, the cracks in the pavement along the way.

So maybe it is okay to have a goal yet to hold that goal loosely in our palm and be open to the little moments in life… The nudging of the Holy Spirit, the interruption, that teachable moment, seeing God in our daily interactions and serving Him with joy in our daily tasks.

And sometimes setting aside those tasks to follow the moment.. The sudden passion for a movie, a book, an urge to cook with mum, to go to the park or for a walk..

I often call this learning by osmosis. Goal or vision in mind but the how-to of achieving that goal is immersed in the living a good life. A life worth living. Good and bad. All things working for the good of those who love the Lord (to paraphrase St Paul).

Chatting to friends at dinner last night , we came upon goals, lofty goals, in homeschooling. And I said that while people may not want to read a book about my homeschooling (Battle Hymn of the Elephant Mother?) or want to pay money to hear me speak about my homeschooling method (in a nut shell – prayer and hang out together)… While this may be too simple to fill a homeschooling tome, nevertheless my goal in Unschooling has been to give the kids a good childhood. And knowing that the rest will follow.

A good childhood. A Swallows and Amazons , a Chalet School childhood.

Adventures. Freedom. Nature. Play and more play. Community. Mixed ages. Learning through interests and life. Faith. The tools of learning. Books. Time. Masterly inactivity on the part of mum. Hanging out together. Friends and family. Prayer. Knowledge shared over cups of tea and books and in museums and art galleries and bookshops and discussing movies and after Mass or over those rosary beads.

A time for focused formal study and much more time for exploration and hanging out and for play.

It paints a rosy picture, doesn’t it? And while things may not always be rosy, the goal of a good childhood, while learning in a family focused environment , is always lingering n my mind. Helping me to make a choice, to pull up my socks mentally when things are less than rosy and work towards joy. And learning. And prayer.

That’s why this unschooler believes in goals…. loose, flowing goals. With a strong dash of determination, commitment and perseverance.
Sprinkled liberally with prayer and thus steeped with liturgy and devotions.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal…The great method of prayer is to have none. If in going to prayer one can form in oneself a pure capacity for receiving the spirit of God, that will suffice for all method.
religion, Unschooling

The Little Way

It is no coincidence that the Catholic unschooling book, the one to which I am a contributor, is called A Little Way of Homeschooling.

No coincidence at all.

Because our lives as wives and mothers, as Christians, are often made up of that little way. Serving God in little ways. And often without recognition. Often, too, with disapproval and criticism.

And homeschooling, unschooling, trusting in the child and his learning, in the rich home environment, in the Holy Spirit can appear to be the most little way of all.

Seemingly nothing.

Yet everything.

Living a vocation and giving our all to Our Lord. With love and trust.

And it comes with a cost.

And with love.
St Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, wrote of assisting an arthritic nun in the community:
“Finally we reached the refectory without mishap; and here other difficulties arose. I had to seat Sister St Pierre and I had to act skilfully in order not to hurt her; then I had to turn back her sleeves (again in a certain way), and afterward I was free to leave. With her poor cripple’s hands she was trying to manage with her bread as well as she could. I soon noticed this, and, each evening, I did not leave her until after I had rendered her this little service. As she had not asked for this, she was very much touched by my attention, and it was by this means that I gained her entire good graces..”

This is not a sentimental love, a love that says words but is based on self. This is love enacted, by paying attention to a person, honouring that person, honouring that God loves that person.

This is the way God loves us.

And how can we show our love for God and others? We can offer up all that we have and do. We can make small sacrifices for the sake of others…we wives and mothers can offer sacrifices and do penance for our family , for their souls, for their vocations, their chastity, their lives.

Those little things. That little way.

St Therese said again..“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

Every little sacrifice.



How does that work?

Penance has not only have a sanctifying effect on us as individuals ( to restrain the inordinate inclinations of self-love, as St Alphonsus Liguori wrote), but also on the Church as a whole. The more our life is patterned after the life of our Our Lord and Saviour, whose act of redemption entailed the greatest sacrifice, well, the more we will make up what is lacking in the body of Christ. As Saint Paul tells us ( Colossians 1:24).

But you know it is sometimes those little sacrifices that loom the biggest. That appear to be most hard.

I can get a rosy , aren’t I so good, feeling from a big sacrifice…but the little every day sacrifices can seem so hard.

A penance, a sacrifice, offered in love for another can appear to be seemingly small…like giving up milk in one’s cup of tea. And praying for the other.

Yet who knew that one would crave a cup of tea with milk. Who knew that one would find this sacrifice so hard, that it would be a true penance and a true occasion for prayer…and for learning about one’s weakness.

Makes one think of St Therese and her little way. Only it doesn’t seem to be so little any more.

The little way of loving and serving Our Lord and thus our families.

Yes, Minister?

Our family is fond of the writings of G.K. Chesterton. Both his fiction (for example, those Father Brown stories) and his non fiction ( one of my favorites is What Is Wrong With The World?).
Chesterton was a convert to Catholicism and sometimes I can relate to his experiences. When sitting in the pew recently, one of his experiences, his quotes, on conversion, came to mind.
Chesterton wrote of the process of exploring and learning about the Catholic Faith…. that while this process is most enjoyable, it is “easier than joining the Catholic Church and much easier than trying to live the Catholic life.”
Well, it is just that when one becomes a Catholic, one starts to live within parish communities. One starts to experience liturgy in a variety of parishes and one starts to see the human frailties. This can be the beauty of Catholicism, acceptance of us all, warts and all. The Church is both divine and human, and so it cannot deviate from Truth., even though it may be made up of people who stray in human nature.
Why, then, did Chesterton’s quote spring to mind in church?
I could see the human straying, in liturgy, in not seeking to understand the Church’s teaching.
With regard to laity, not priests. Although the laity have not been formed correctly in this regard by their pastors.
You know, the priesthood of believers means that we all share in the ministry, the prayer, the role of the Church. No one denies this principle.
But how sad it is to see laity trying to replace or emulate or compete with the role of the ordained priesthood.
We all have roles to play. The role of the laity, however, is different to the role of the priest.
And not all priests or lay people understand this. They talk about ministry… Ministry of Holy Communion ( forgetting that these are Extraordinary Ministers and not to be there as an automatic occurrence), the Ministry of Music , of Lectors and, yes, of Collectors (handing out the baskets at the collection time is a ministry? Yes, or so it is said in some parishes).
Or we see Acolytes who try to take on the priest’s role, cleaning sacred vessels while ignoring the concelebrating priest, deciding to hold a Communion service because Father has been delayed.
Acolytes are not mini priests.
Neither are parish committee members or chairpersons. We do not need what amounts to a second homily from the committee member, exhorting us to be a family, to grow in faith.
These misconceptions can make it more difficult than it should be, to sit in the pew and pray…and thus I sympathise with G. K. Chesterton’s thoughts.
To put the record straight, this is not a matter of criticism. It is just an upholding of Church teaching.
To put the record straight, this is not a matter of personal taste in liturgy but a matter of incorrect understanding of the teaching of the Church on the role of the laity, especially in liturgy. An incorrect teaching or lack of knowledge of the documents of Vatican II and of ensuing documents.
But don’t take my word for it. Read Christifideles Laici, Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, written in 1987.
“In the same Synod Assembly ( the Synod of Bishops, 1987) , however, a critical judgment was voiced along with these positive elements, about a too-indiscriminate use of the word “ministry”, the confusion and the equating of the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood, the lack of observance of ecclesiastical laws and norms, the arbitrary interpretation of the concept of “supply”, the tendency towards a “clericalization” of the lay faithful and the risk of creating, in reality, an ecclesial structure of parallel service to that
founded on the Sacrament of Orders.”
Definitely post Vatican II. And defining the distinct but important roles of the laity ( the common priesthood) and the ministerial priesthood. A warning against making lay people into mini priests, a warning against bandying around the word ministry, lest the word and the role be devalued. A warning because, let’s face it, if we, the laity, do everything except the consecration during the .liturgy, then our role in temporal affairs, that is to say, bringing the Gospel to the world, is devalued. It may be seen as unimportant unless it has a religious title. Whereas you and I both know that often it is that living and sharing the Gospel in our every day life, in the workplace, that is very effective in spreading the Good News.
And a warning because when this happens, then the role of the priest or of the religious brother is devalued, too. If lay people take communion to the sick , as a standard practice and not when a brother or priest is unavailable or busy, if lay people take over the liturgy or the Communion Service as standard practice, if those and other activities are undertaken as a matter of course and not when needed, if these are seen as ordinary and not extraordinary, then what encouragement is there for a young man to enter the religious life and/or priesthood? He may feel a call but see that this call can perhaps be fulfilled in many lay ministries and at seemingly less cost to self
These roles may initially be undertaken to help with the so-called vocation crisis but in the end they become one way to perpetuate the vocation crisis.
“Precisely to overcome these dangers the Synod Fathers have insisted on the necessity to express with greater clarity, and with a more precise terminology, both the unity of the Church’s mission in which all the baptized participate, and the substantial diversity of the ministry of Pastors which is rooted in the Sacrament of Orders, all the while respecting the other ministries, offices and roles in the Church, which are rooted in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. In the first place, then, it is necessary that in acknowledging and in conferring various ministries, offices and roles on the lay faithful, the Pastors exercise the maximum care to institute them on the basis of Baptism in which these tasks are rooted. It is also necessary that Pastors guard against a facile yet abusive recourse to a presumed “situation of emergency” or to “supply by necessity”, where objectively this does not exist or where alternative possibilities could exist through better pastoral planning. ” Christifideles Laici again.