I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Be "RUNstoppable"

"...When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus..."

Even our Mass songs today referenced running - that's pretty cool...

In all seriousness, though, I've been trying to stick to a pretty "strict" final week of race prep:

1) The taper is sacred - 3 miles (tops) each morning through today; now, there is no more running until race day.

2) Water must be consumed constantly - never have I drunk so many water bottles and made such frequent trips to the ladies' room.

3) Walking up and down stairs must be kept to a minimum. (Let's just say I haven't seen our smiling secretary quite so much this week, nor have I been the one to run other teachers' copies up to them during the last period of the day.)

4) Carbs are essential - and even when I think I've had enough, I insist on more: bread, croutons, pretzels... (And chocolate seems to be a good option this week too.)

As of right now, the website says 3 days, 10 hours, and "change" until the race officially starts - after months of preparation (mostly in the freezing cold and through piles of snow), the marathon weekend is nearly here. And, while I'm not thrilled the temperatures will be so high, I am resigned to the fact that if I don't PR this race, it's going to be okay. (I'm still going to try, don't get me wrong - I just have to be realistic.)

Sunday's a comin'...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pray for our Priests

For the first time in quite some time, I had the 8th graders' attention.

Now, I could chalk that up to the fact that, due to the rotating schedule, I had them before lunch (which does not happen the rest of the week), OR I could chalk it up to the fact that this video about the priesthood got their attention.

After watching the video multiple times myself, I'd like to go with the latter.

The 8th grade is in the midst of a unit on vocations, so yesterday we took a deeper look at one of the four vocations: priesthood. We did some other videos and activities too, but this video was, by far, the one that held their attention the most. After the video (about 12 minutes in length) finished, I asked them to give their initial reactions and to share what they noticed about the seminarians & priests in the video.

One comment stood out (and I wasn't sure anyone would necessarily pick up on it, even though it was pretty obvious): They all look happy. Darn right they do - they're full of the love of God, and through their vocation they are sharing that love with others. They are amazing and such a true blessing to the Catholic faithful.

We ended class with a prayer for priests. I invite you to pray it too:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

What's the Use...

What's the use of wond'rin...


(I'm recently obsessed with Carousel music, if you couldn't tell.)

- if it's going to rain on Sunday?
- if the heat will affect our running time/breathing?
- if I'll remember to pack everything?
- if I'll be able to psyche myself up instead of out?

I mean, heck, I can't control these things.

Pigs are flying on Sunday - there's nothing more say...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Journey Home

"We're in the Easter season until May 24th (Pentecost)," our visiting priest reminded all of us at Mass this morning.

And then he said, "Is anyone familiar with the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'?" Hands shot up, some with more gusto and excitement than others.

"What did Dorothy have to say and what did she have to do to get home?" Click her ruby red shoes together three times and say, "There's no place like home."

"And who were the three characters she met along the way?" Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion
"What did each one need/lack?" Scarecrow = brain, Tin Man = heart, Lion = courage
"Dorothy already possessed all of these things, didn't she? She just didn't know it at first..."

Fr. Larry - Yes, we have two Fr. Larry's - went on to connect this with the idea that during this season of Easter we are like Dorothy: Easter is our opportunity to realize the gifts God has given us to help us on our journey home (eventually) to heaven. He then challenged all of us to show love to others (Tin Man) and courage in tough situations (Lion) this week. He said we already used our brains (Scarecrow) for learning every day anyways.

Good one, Fr. Larry. (It did take a little debriefing with the 6th graders after Mass for them to "get it," but I think they ended up taking away the message.)

May God bless all of us this Easter season so that we may choose to live each day as beacons and signs of His love and mercy. He is Risen. Amen! Alleluia!

On an unrelated (but Church) note, so many videos, interviews, and articles have been converging on my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, but this (short) one in particular struck a nerve. Oh, to have the faith of a child, especially in the face of imminent death. Beautiful...

On a different unrelated (but, amazingly, still Church) note, this quote was included in today's ND prayer reflection, and it conveys an incredible sentiment, so, naturally, I had to share: “O God, to those who have hunger, give bread; and to us who have bread, give the hunger for justice.” (Fr. Hesburgh)

Monday, April 20, 2015

But we lost...

"That was the best game you ever played - You were calling the ball, nearly fighting over the ball, getting two or three hits. You played so well." That's what my other coach and I told our girls after their volleyball game tonight.

But we lost was all they could think.

It was hard for some of the girls to get past the fact that they could both play well and (unfortunately) lose. The game was literally a toss-up; both played extremely well. In the third game, they just edged us out, and we had to end early due to lack of time.

It's hard in the moment to notice how far you've come, whether it be in sports or in life. Sometimes, it takes someone else, an outside pair of eyes, to give you a kick in the pants and help get you back on track, keeping your eyes on the prize. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of dwelling on failures or could-have-been's, but that doesn't do well for our souls...or for moving forward. If we made mistakes, that's wonderful because, guess what(!), it's evidence that we tried. Learn and move on. Make adjustments, keep a stiff upper lip, and do it again next time...better.

That's what I want the girls to take from this. If they could only see through their coaches' and parents' eyes, they'd begin to notice the difference in their passing, serving, and aggression/energy. I'm so proud of their consistent effort and genuine love of the game. We have fun. We learn. Sometimes we win...and sometimes we don't.

But that's all part of the beauty of learning the game.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spending Time With Others

The weekend isn't nearly over yet, but it's already shaping up to be a wonderful one that has largely been spent by spending time with others:

Last night, following aftercare and the middle school dance (where I had the chance to catch up with my principal and some other teachers), I visited with my sister, two of my ACE housemates, and another ACE classmate who is attending a conference this week in Chicago. We sat around sipping beer, munching on tortilla chips, and swapping stories - so low key yet so incredibly worthwhile! To top it all off, we all got respective rides home from our host.

This morning, Marisa and I had a nice run along the lakefront trail together - we are so close to our race! The weather was beautiful (except for the wind on the final stretch), but it felt super early after getting to bed late and having an early start.

For today's afternoon/evening, I attended the annual Service Day at my Church, where my group went to one of the local shelters. Our work did not consist in much manual labor - it was a lot of sorting and (for others) filing. But it was neat to meet some new people who are also parishioners! Our group had some great visiting time. Then, all the groups came back together to celebrate Mass and to enjoy dinner, drinks, and dessert.

Tomorrow, Marisa and I will be heading downtown to visit with one of our college research professors - it's been awhile since we've seen her, so it should be a lot of fun! (Somewhere in there I'll squeeze in some work I need to do too. Ha ha.)

It's so good to just be with other people. Weekends are perfect for times like these.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Things Miss Foyle Says...

Years from now, my students may not remember much of what they learned in class (or, maybe they will - I can only hope), but, if they think of me at all, they'll probably remember these oft repeated phrases that have become staples in our classroom:

Unless you're about to throw up, bleeding, or on fire, you may not come speak with me when I'm with a reading group.

The only thing you need to bring to the carpet is your lovely self.

That book is my favorite. Well, that one is too...

Mints are good brain food (for tests).

(while praying Stations of the Cross) Jesus suffered on the cross for three hours; you can stand for 20 minutes.

Doing nothing is not an option.

Nowhere on the board does it say talk to your neighbor.

Anyways, you get the idea. What you say says a lot about you, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grilled Cheese Perfection

I recently subscribed to a podcast through NPR called "This I Believe" - an "episode" is usually a 7 minute (including an intro and ads) segment that comes out weekly.

Seven minutes - sweet. I can pay attention for that long.

Here's how the program describes itself on the website:

This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 125,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, have been archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

One of the more recent episodes - I'm working backwards, as I only subscribed last week - caught my attention, as it was entitled "The Grilled Cheese Principle." What a funny name for an essay, I thought. However, the title clearly served its purpose, as I decided to listen to it this morning. It's an interesting piece about achieving excellence by giving 100% focus to everything, even those things that are the most routine or mundane.

Here's an excerpt that shows this point: "So, I have learned that even the most tedious and simple task deserves my full attention. When I am multitasking, I am doing none of the tasks well. And when I allow myself to be distracted, I am not in the present moment—not paying attention to the small details of living or enjoying the process."

It actually reminded me of something my dad called me out on way back when I lived in Arizona. (You can ask him - I emailed him this very podcast upon listening because it reminded me of what he explained to me.) I was on the phone with him but also on email or doing something else, and he knew right away I wasn't giving my 100% attention.

I'm really glad he called me out that day because that serves as a constant reminder, my "grilled cheese moment," if you will. Multitasking just doesn't work. Give it all or don't bother. This is something I consistently work on and remind myself of daily. But the payoff of being in the moment and 100% into something is well worth it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Learning from Lent

About a week ago (a week ago, a week ago - no, stop, I'm not referring to the song), the student body gathered for our weekly Mass during Holy Week. During his homily, our visiting (but fairly regular) priest got straight to the heart of the matter: How have you changed in light of following your Lenten promises? and How will you keep up the spirit of your Lenten promises after Easter?

One of my students raised his hand to answer the first question. He explained that during Lent he had given up video games - you know, the ones like Warcraft and Halo. Well, the young boy went on to share how his father had recently told him that he'd noticed a difference in the boy's behavior, that he was being nicer and more respectful since he'd stopped playing those games.

What a great example of change for the better, which, as Christians, aren't we striving for in making our Lenten promises in the first place?

So, our priest asked for another example. No one raised a hand, so I volunteered to share about one of my own Lenten promises - sending a note/card a day to different friends and family members. How did this change me? As I explained to those in Church with me, it helped me focus on friendships and gratitude. It allowed me to connect with people I don't always talk to and to realize how I should spend more time cultivating those friendships. So, while I likely won't be sending a card a day every day in the year to come, I do want to commit to pouring more effort into keeping in touch and spending time with the wonderful people in my life.

Lent is over, but Easter is just getting started. And, as you'll notice, in the Church year, the Easter season is 50 days (which is 10 days more than Lent) - there's a reason for that. We're meant to celebrate the most important holiday of our Church year.

Alleluia! He is Risen!