The Pope and I

When Saint Pope John Paul the second died, I heard of many people who cried. I was fascinated by that. How could somebody cry over the death of a public figure whom they had never met? Perhaps the fact that at the time of his death, I had only been a confirmed Catholic for a year or two contributed to my inability to comprehend this. I was baptized Catholic as an infant, but was raised by two parents who never attended church. My paternal grandmother tried her best to convince me to go to Mass with her. I rarely went. For reasons unknown to me during college, God led me on a path toward my current teaching position at a Catholic school. He brought me into a faith I didn’t care much about growing up. At the time of John Paul’s death, I had no idea of the impact he had made throughout the recent years. I simply did not pay attention. Of course, it was hard to notice anything outside of myself for many years as I battled to overcome personal mental illness demons.

But now, as I begin my 10th year teaching in a Catholic school, I have taken notice of Pope Francis, as so many people around the world also have. The day that the white smoke was seen in St. Peter’s Square,  we streamed it live in each of our classrooms. This was history! And the kids were getting to experience it live! Granted, the 3 o’clock bell rang before Pope Francis appeared on the balcony for the first time to announce himself to the world. He has not ceased to make history since that first day of his papacy. There are so many examples of things he has said, acts of kindness and gentleness that he has done, that it’s easy to see why he has been called “the people’s pope”.

As I have written before, I tend to have very vivid dreams each and every night. Over the summer, I dreamt that I was in Rome and touring a cathedral when Pope Francis came out to visit the small group of tourists that I was a part of. In my dream, we hugged. A full hug in which his arms encircled me, and in that hug, without him saying a word, I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s love. In that hug, I felt the full power of God’s forgiveness. I felt that through God, everything is alright. The feeling was very intense, even in a dream. It was the next morning that I decided to contact my priest and arrange a time to come for Confession…for the first time in 10 years.

And now, seeing coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to my country on nearly every news program that I watch, I am filled with pride in my faith. I am fascinated by the possibility of being in his presence, even if it’s just to be among so many other thousands of people pressed together along a parade route. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, who many people are against, was moved to tears many times while listening to Pope Francis address Congress, and even as he stood behind him as he waved to people on a balcony at the capital. I can only imagine what that must have felt like for him.

I realize that Pope Francis is technically, just a man. An imperfect human like all the rest of us. But what he represents, what his message is, the hope he brings, is enough to convince me that dedicating my life to teaching the youth about God, whether in school during the week or in Faith Formation classes on Sunday mornings, is the right life for me. And I am also convinced, that when it is time for Pope Francis to be called home to the Lord, I will be among those with tears freely flowing.

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When motivating yourself doesn’t work…

“This is my fight song.”

There is no doubt that “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten has become an anthem for large numbers of people since its release. People who find inspiration in the lyrics are people fighting many different battles, for themselves or others. I recently saw a video of a mother who used the song in her video to support the research of childhood cancer because she had lost her young son to this disease.

“Take back my life song.”

Each person who hears this song and feels empowered by these words may have a story to tell. Some of these people may be at the end of their fight, whatever it was, they have come out of the fight a new person and completely in control of their life. I wish I could say the same of my battle. So many aspects of my life are controlled by my ability to work hard and do what needs to be done. As they say, I wear many hats at my school. I am responsible for a whole variety of different elements of making my school as good as it is. From chairing different committees and being the coordinator/advisor/administrator of other groups and tasks and anything else that needs to be done, I can do it all. I like to think that I can do it because I don’t have children yet and spare time and energy is more abundant now than I am sure it would be when I become a mother. But while I feel totally in control of what I do at work, I feel completely out of control when it comes to my health.

I have posted before about my ability to carry and deliver children in good health depends on my losing weight. I have the most important reason in the world to motivate me, yet, I have not been successful. It is a daily battle. Each day is another chance to eat what I know is good for me, drink as much water as I can, and get on the damn elliptical at the end of the day. Yet, I feel close to tears every evening when I get into bed and I know that I didn’t succeed in my daily goals. When I hear “take back my life song”, I am singing loud to myself to remind me that this is what I need to do. I need to take my life back from this powerful grip that laziness has over me.

“Prove I’m alright song.”

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest. I have been singing this line wrong every single time. I just now googled the lyrics to make sure I was typing them correctly and I shook my head at this line. I have always thought it was “Prove them all right song”. It sounds about the same as the correct lyric, which clears up my initial confusion over why anybody would want to prove people right. Don’t most people want to prove people wrong? Those people who say you can’t do it, thus motivating you to prove that you CAN? But then I thought, what about everybody who has always told me that I CAN do it? I CAN lose weight. I need to prove them right. I CAN do it.

For whatever reason, I have not been able to motivate myself beyond just knowing what I need to do, but actually getting up and doing it. So, I’ve finally decided what direction to take my blog, at least for a little while. I have come across so many people, videos, quotes, etc. that have made an impact on me and given my hope that I too can be successful at my goal of losing enough weight to hopefully eradicate my diabetes, high blood pressure, and polycystic ovary syndrome that are all working against me in my quest to become a mother. I’m going to document all of these sources of inspiration on a weekly basis so that I’ll never forget.

This is the beginning of my journey. What exercise I failed to do over the summer doesn’t matter anymore. It’s too late tonight, but day 1 starts tomorrow.

A note about my featured image…I wanted to find a graphic representing the number 230 which is the number around which my weight has consistently hovered. But I didn’t find a pre-made image online that I liked or could download and use easily, so I took my own. This is my belly–where a significant portion of those 230 pounds center. I don’t want to have a flat stomach, it would be nice, but it’s not necessary. As Queen Latifah said in a Jennie Craig commercial at one time, “I want to be a size healthy”.