Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Lily Lolek: Future Saint

 Lily Lolek: Future Saint


I was excited to receive Katie Warner’s new book, Lily Lolek Future Saint.  The illustrations are playful and well-done and the storyline is even better.


It tells of a girl named Lily who “there was nothing that she wanted more than to love with her might and to burst with God’s joy…”. It then is a whimsical introduction to the charisms of the saints, describing their virtues that Lily wants to emulate.  She becomes disheartened when she is told she won’t be exactly like these saints.  A priest comes to dinner and shares with her that God loves her and doesn’t want people to be exactly like a previous saint, but like the saint God made her to be.  It talks about building a relationship with God and following the examples of the saints, not copying them.  A wonderful message!


Overall, my son and I enjoyed this book.  He was familiar with the saints mentioned, but I think this book would be a great way to also introduce children to new saints and do further investigation.  The message of the book overall was wonderful to share with my son.  I think we will enjoy this book in years to come.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Vet School Series: Critical Care Humor

This is from my vet school series- bear in mind that I was a sleep-deprived student when you look at the grammar and sentence structure...

I am on my Emergency and Critical Care rotation, that is why I am posting at 3:44 in the morning.  

After a long day of death, tears, hard work, throw in some anal glands, vomiting and diarrhea and exposure to X-rays, some dog wrestling, Chihuahua lunging, etc.. I am exhausted.

  Let's just say here, we start our days with Ibuprofen.  I have mysterious bruises on my arms that I don't know where I acquired them from.   I think I've developed dyslexia and I might have a concussion from body-slamming a Great Dane (when I body slam, it does nothing except stop the dog).  Am I complaining?  No, I'm a vet student,  and in some sick and twisted way, I actually enjoy this!

The people I'm working with are fun.  Sure there's stress when you have a cat on dialysis, a dog that ate chocolate, one that ate oxycontin, a septic abdomen and by the way there's a woman who is paging you every 60 minutes to ask annoying questions that you legally aren't allowed to answer.  We actually all can recognize her by her voice.  Unfortunately, we don't have laws like 911 operators do and we have to drop whatever we are doing to answer the phone.  But then there's those bonding moments, where you don't care that you have blood or other substances you don't want me to elaborate on, on your shoes, face shirt.   You just see that burrito that the angel from heaven, your beloved classmate, brings to you.  Then, as you're presenting an emergency case to the lead doctor, throughout the night he is trying different aerodynamic engineering designs to see if he can get the air conditioner to nail someone across the room.  There's laughter, tears, there is blood and there is guts, but what makes up for all the sad news and death we deal with is when Fifi goes home and the owners want to give you a hug, or when that cat who has been looking like death warmed over has the will to live!  (This typically means they try biting).  There's nothing like a cat who decides they feel good enough to be pissed off.  By the way, I'm not sure what day of the week it is and my body's schedule is all screwed up.  S
o if there are any spelling errors or things don't make sense, I apologize.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Election craziness

This is a post I wrote before the election in 2016.  It still seems to be relevant today....

I vacillate between worry about the election and a complete, "I'm done" with it all.  There's uncertainty in everyone's future and if you listened to the news and political people you would think whoever gets elected in 11 days the world will possibly end.

I work in an area where many people have opposing viewpoints and I work with people who either agree or agree to disagree.  This is a good thing.  It reminds me the world will go on and most people are just as frustrated as I am by our choices and the hostility in our current political climate.  I also am reminded everyday of the dogs and cats I work with who have no clue as to the partisanship around them and just display loyalty and friendship.  I'm not suggesting we should send our politicians to the dogs, but it restores my memory of what life is like with simplicity and without partisanship.

This election does matter.  It's important that everyone votes and understands the consequences, but should you be getting anxious and worried consider doing the following:

  1. Know that as faith-filled people, "Jesus I Trust In You," can lower your blood pressure and remind you, render on to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.  Think what you will about either political leader, but either way, we aren't living in the time of Nero's Circus and the Roman Emperors.
  2. Read a little about the Founding Fathers.  They may not have had e-mail, but their scandals and drama was every bit as scary as ours.  Even Alexander Hamilton had a rather racy sex scandal.  At least we don't do duels anymore.  This was also a time when we were still known as "The American Experiment".  At least with over 200 years worth of corrupt politicians, we know that our democracy has been through it before.
  3. Consider turning off the TV and going for a walk.  Sometimes it's good to get outside, smell the fresh air, watch the autumn leaves and think of America as a simple idyllic land.
  4. Drink some wine, or hot chocolate, or whatever warm (or cold) drink that makes you happy and be grateful for the little things.
  5. Think about how we are blessed.  Sure, we have politicians who we wouldn't want our kids to look up to.  I'm grateful that I don't have to explain everything in the news to my son.  With liars and language that even my thirty-something self doesn't like it can get rough.  I listened to Francesca Battistelli's song, "This Is The Stuff" on my way home tonight.  If you haven't listened to it, give it a try.  It talks about losing your keys and all sorts of other stuff that is a regular occurrence in many people's busy lives.  It talks about, "this is the stuff that gets under my skin".  It also ultimately comes out with the message, "when I'm in the middle of this little mess it reminds me exactly how much I'm blessed."  Yes, no one wants to deal with all the politics right now.  November 8th (or November 9th if you are the other party, you know republicans and democrats vote on different days, right?  Just kidding...) can't come soon enough.  But we all need to remember, we are blessed to live in a country where we can vote, where both sexes and all ideologies vote and no matter all the dirty tricks and other tactics, we actually do live in a democracy.  Take advantage of it.  Vote and most importantly pray.  Pray for unity and peace.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Catholic At Home- A Review

I had the pleasure of viewing a new premium video series called Catholic At Home.

It is a series of fairly short (around 5 minutes) reflections, catechesis and information on,  "How God is calling us to Holiness through our families."  For a busy, active family, I think going through this series one day at a time is very doable.

It is professionally produced and has great images to illustrate points and short vignettes.  One of the best explanations I've heard of the Trinity in a while was distilled down to a very understandable level.

Parts of the series talk about how to pray, how to read sacred scriptures as a family.

Initially it seemed the presenter spoke very slow and deliberate.  I got used to it though, and realized in the cadence it gave me time to absorb and meditate.  Sometimes I think I need a change of pace to just not tone out the message, so this was initially a turn-off, but I
grew to appreciate the cadence the further I got into the material.

I enjoyed how this program was a mix of catechesis and practical applications such as how you can and should live a liturgical life at home as well as forgiveness in a family.  I look forward to viewing more of their material in the future.

I think overall this was a good series, and a great way to have many "mini-retreats" in this stay-at-home time.  It is a 21 day series and the price of $24.95 is fairly reasonable for the professional and well-done material.  This might also be a good gift idea for someone (a good idea for a small amount of date time for parents to watch together, or include in the gift giving time for someone to disappear with a cup of coffee for 5 minutes)

Friday, October 30, 2020

Not my proudest moment, but some lessons learned....

 A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went to pray outside of an abortion clinic.  It had been a while since I had done this because there is no parking nearby where you aren't at risk of being towed.  My mom calculated that our walk was about a mile, though I don't think it was quite that bad.

It was a walk along a VERY busy road.  We made it to the area with other prayer warriors and prayed a rosary.  We then headed back to the car.  I had to run an errand next, so we went on to my next stop, where I realized I couldn't find my wallet.  I hoped and prayed that I was being absent-minded (like the day before when I had left my wallet at home when I was at the doctor's office).  I knew in my gut though, that the wallet was somewhere along the busy road.  I went through a series of emotions, frustration and anger with myself, questioning whether I'm starting to have cognitive dysfunction (my husband had tried to gently suggest this might be the case and then I reminded him I'm a working mother who has a lot of stuff going on and I'm pretty sure undiagnosed ADD).

I also questioned God.  Certainly not His existence, but His reasoning.  Seriously?  Seriously you are going to let me lose my wallet when I got up early on a Saturday morning to do something that is not popular in the area and I'm going to get chastised for?  Of all times to lose a wallet, when I'm trying to be charitable?  I changed my prayer and said, "ok, it happened, now what are you going to do?  I'm waiting for you to bring some good out of this...."  I then prayed to St. Anthony.  I then e-mailed all the people in our parish Respect For Life group to please pray for St. Anthony's intercession for me (and to see if anyone had happened to pick up a wallet).

I went back to the busy street and re-combed the area along with my mom.  No wallet.

I went home and decided I needed to eat lunch, because despair is better with food.  I resolved after eating to look up all the things I needed to cancel or get replaced.

I received a call from REI.  While that might not seem strange, it was strange.  I hadn't ordered anything.  I listened to the voicemail.  Apparently someone was trying to frantically get a hold of me because they had found my wallet.  I called REI and got redirected through a few confused people and got a hold of the customer service representative who had called.  She was excited!  "There's a woman who's trying to get a hold of you because she said you left your ENTIRE wallet, with like your whole life on the side of ____ road!".  "Yes, yes, you are awesome," I replied.  She then gave me the woman's contact info to get a hold of her.  She sounded very excited and pleased to make my day.

I contacted the Good Samaritan and picked up my wallet.  She had told me she didn't want to send it in the mail and she had tried to get a hold of me by contacting my bank but they only froze my card....  She saw my REI membership card and thought she'd give it a try.  I'm sure grateful she did.  She did what a lot of people wouldn't do.  Not that many people would steal a wallet, but to go through the extra work and brainpower to try to track me down.  She wouldn't accept a reward.  She just simply said, "I've been in your situation before, this is what you do."

I shared the story with my parish group to follow up.  I told them, yes.  I did find the wallet, and thank you for praying for the intercession of St. Anthony.  I thought of how the woman at REI got to be a hero today, in a time when people are stressed and quite frankly cranky to customer service representatives (and veterinarians).  I thought how the young mom who helped me got an opportunity to make a generous gesture and I thought of the opportunity of the parish group to come together in community for prayer (even as mundane as a lost wallet) and see a positive result.  I didn't understand why God had let me lose my wallet (from a zipped pocket, nonetheless).  But I'm quite confident He knows why and I'm reminded the next time I want to question His ways, I just need to pray for His Will.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Essential Worker.....

I write the following with great gratitude for the nurses, doctors, grocery store workers and those on the frontlines.  They are heroes.

I used to feel guilty about being called an essential worker....  I'm a healthcare worker (for animals).  So, not exactly on the frontlines.   But.. as I was talking to a colleague we still bear the responsibility of deciding whether we should go to work.  Going to work for us doesn't mean teleworking, it's just not possible.  Going to work for us means getting pretty up close to our fellow co-workers (as much as we would like to be able to examine an angry cat from 6 feet away, it just isn't feasible).  We have to daily make decisions on risk, our families, our livelihoods.

I've noticed that everything we do at work just takes longer.  People also seem to get angrier and frustrated easily.  A colleague remarked, "Side-effect of COVID whether you test positive or not- ability to become crazy and mad much quicker".  I've noticed people are sharing much more of their life stories.  Sometimes, it's very helpful to understanding what's going on with the pet.   Sometimes I just have to remind myself this might be that person's most meaningful interaction of the day.  While I'm not helping their pet directly, I may be helping them by patiently listening.

We also have to have empathy.  I have found myself and colleagues taking risks and being compassionate, walking a line between personal safety and compassion.  Euthanasia is a hard time in "normal" circumstances.  Try adding in a pandemic.  Different clinics have navigated this issue differently.  I kind of walk a line between personal safety and being compassionate.  We try to do things as we can outside (not possible with angry cats though).  Euthanasia by nature involves compassion.  People in mourning have difficulty keeping their masks on through tears.  They long for touch.  I was never big on hugging strangers, but I sometimes would touch a hand or arm to convey my empathy.  Gone are those days.

I've found that people are thirsting for community.  We are MADE to be in community.  This time is particularly hard for my single coworkers who don't have family in the area.  They have said if they didn't have this work, riskier than working at home as it is, they would go crazy.  They have admitted to going borderline crazy already.

Our retired priest at our parish wanted to fist bump people after the last Mass we went to.  While my son has been trained NOT TO TOUCH anything or anyone at this time, I turned to my son and said, "give him a fist bump, I have the hand sanitizer ready, but we need to give him a fist bump."  Different people have different requirements for physical connection.  Neuropsychology says that the power of touch is that it releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and that thus decreases cortisol.  

Decreasing cortisol helps our resilience.  Whether it's physical touch or trying to touch someone by listening, we have the ability to help each other be resilient at this time.

Everyone is walking and negotiating different aspects of their health at this time.  Whether it's preventing an infection or preserving mental health, we need the support of each other.  Whether it's listening, touching or reaching out. we all need to take care of each other.

In some ways, aren't we all essential workers?  We are all essential to each other.  Community is essential...

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Strange Times for Everyone

The title of this post sounds cliche.  There isn't really a new "normal".  The word I seem to keep using with my husband is "sustainable".  Whether the decisions we make are sustainable.  When we were trying to keep the hospital admissions down in March and April, we were quite rigid.  We are adapting.

The initial precautions we took in March/April are not sustainable for the long-term for our family.  The uncertainties of work, the wish to sustain relationships, all of these things need to factor into the decisions we make, besides keeping our family healthy.  We are blesse
d that our family does not have anyone at extreme high risk of the disease, but we do have parents who are more at risk than we are.  We also know that they sometimes take less precautions than we do.

With our son, I see the role isolation has taken in his life.  As an only child (not by choice) he is forced to be with us all the time.  He is becoming more of anadult ahead of his time while at the same time becoming more engaged in video games (of the sports variety).  We used to not allow much digital time in our house, but the need to get work done, keep him occupied and realizing that he can't watch sports games on TV like he used to has changed how much we allow.  (I am sometimes shocked at all the old games he finds on the TV.  He will ask me if I was at a sporting event he's watching that happened in the early 2000's.)  My kid actually told me, "It's endemic to me that I have difficulty breathing if I don't have soda, games or dessert."  Yes, my 7 year old actually used the word endemic.

We are trying to balance learning, play and quiet time in a whole new way.  We used to never have TV or anything on during dinner time.  Dinner time was a time for us to connect.  I can't remember how it was exactly said, but our family realized that we really are together all day most of the time, so instead of forcing more conversation at dinner, we've started listening to audiobooks together.

Fortunately, we were able to go to my family's lake house for a brief respite, and there were boys his age there.  It was awe
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some.  It was like watching my kid become a kid again.  Interacting and socializing outside with his peers brought out a new joy.  Swimming, slip and slide, baseball and other lower risk activities were a great way to connect.  It reminded me that his childhood memories are not going to be like mine (I have no idea how he's going to remember this time period but I can only hope he will remember the good parts of all this "togetherness" and not the frustrations). 

 Even though his childhood will have a memory of a huge departure from "normal" and a lot of disruption, he will still have memories of childhood.  At this time, I don't think my role as a parent is to make life "normal" for my child.  I think my husband and I have the responsibility to walk in faith, find room for joy and not deny that there are some disappointments.  Jesus calls us to grow and these times are testing the soil we are planted on.  Everyone needs grace at this time and we are happy to find that in our Catholic faith.