Friday, November 30, 2007

I give up .......

I've been trying to figure out how to transition over to this new blog (an idea with which, as you can obviously tell, I have not been the most successful!), but it's been a challenge. That, in turn, I believe is most likely due to the fact that I haven't fully figured out how to handle any of the other transitions in my life .... so really, this is just par for the course.

For those of you who didn't know (or haven't picked up on it), I left the monastery in June. Long story that will be shared as I continue "The Story of a Vocation" as I get around to it. Waiting until I finished it, though, was just keeping me from the rest of this.

So I'm back in civilian life ...... though civilian life in transition, as I'm seriously looking at that order that I was "supposed to" go with all along (as you'll read in maybe Parts 4 and/or 5). But since I hadn't made final profession, I get to start from scratch all over again. This year is a time to just get my feet back under me; nothing serious/official until next year...... just visiting and connecting as I choose and/or desire.

Life as a "normal" person has had its moments, but for the most part it's been pretty good. I've most generally been able to play the avoidance game, get myself lost in my new life, and ignore all the big changes I've put myself through. But then, every once in a while, a moment slips in. And then, hard-core independent that I am, I have an issue or two.

Please understand --- I left the monastery strictly by my own choosing. I even made the comment to the prioress that this would have been a lot easier if I had been completely miserable and hated everyone. But the reality was that I truly loved the place and those people, and I had been given so unspeakably much in my time there ..... yet, at the same time, there's more to being a monastic that wonderful people and beautiful grounds.

I'm still in Loovul, still at the same job. If I saw myself leaving religious life completely, I might have been a little more hard-core about the name switch, but since I'm looking more to just switch communities, it keeps things unique and entertaining for these kids who have known me for two years as "Sr. Steph" --- even the administration still calls me that at times.

And now I'm having issues continuing with the typing of this post, as a certain little Pumpkinhead has decided to lay her chin on my touchpad and limit most of the access to my spacebar. I guess posting pictures of aforementioned kitten will have to come later.

Hmmmmm, if I slide the laptop away a bit, I have a little more access. We'll see how long this lasts before she decides to start nibbling my thumbs instead .....

Today I went on a Day of Reflection with some of the high school campus ministers in the area. I had already been planning on taking a personal day to catch up from Thanksgiving (they call it a break?!?!?), so when our campus minister emailed about an extra spot, I jumped at the opportunity to legitimize my absence (and lessen my slacker-induced guilt).

Thing is, it was all about Advent. How Advent really means "To come into being." About the importance of silence, and stepping back, and making time sacred. And discussing how we do that, and what helps us with that. And I'm just sitting there thinking about all my hiding places at the Hill, and the ritual of liturgical seasons at the Hill, and the O Antiphons at the Hill, and everything else that made life sacred while I was there. And knowing that I just walked away from all that. And knowing that I'm not sure how well I'll take to "just your average parish Advent" celebrations when I've become so steeped in the monastic community.

And then I began thinking about next weekend, when I'm going to be attending a retreat with that other community, and how I'm not sure how that will go either. After all, I was at that same location for a similarly-purposed retreat ten years ago in the height of my "Let's Go Nunsters" phase .... when I was working for, sometimes living with, and considering to be an honorary member of one of their local communities. Now, I've been away from it (and them) for ten years. What will it be like to go back to their holy ground? To be not at the monastery for that Advent Sunday? To be celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when it no longer is my monastery's patronal feast? Especially when it's time away ..... to think, discuss, discern, pray, share ......?

I think that was my problem today. There was time to stop and think. That's the killer for me.

Must. Over-busy. Myself.

Part of today, too, was the realization that, after five years in the monastery, I've got no one to go to. There's my roommate, who has her own discernment challenges. There are all her friends that I've become hooked up with, but they're still her friends. And then there are people from the monastery. And other people from the monastery. And, wait, what about .....? Oh yeah, that's right, she's a monastery person, too.

It's not that I'm not welcome there, because I very much am. And it's not that no one there wants to talk to me, because I'm sure many would be more than willing. But _I_ don't know how to. _I_ don't know how to deal with the fact that I feel like I just walked out on them. Even though I KNOW I didn't, they know I didn't, and I don't regret those five years for anything ..... it's still hard.

And I truly don't regret it. I guarantee that, had I entered the other community five years ago, there's no way I would have made it. When I made that comment to the monastery vocation director, she said: "You're exactly right. You would have left them, you wouldn't have gone anywhere else, and we all would have lost you. You needed to be here."

But just because it's right doesn't mean it's not hard.

And so I guess that brings me to one of the big ideas of Benedict (I'm still allowed to like the guy, right?) .....

Always we begin again.

Ten years later, and I feel like I'm right back where I started. Funny how life works, eh?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wireless Once More

I caved a week ago, and spent my birthday afternoon (before heading off to fencing!) getting our apartment all wirelessly hooked-up. And yes, as mentioned before, it was immediately password-protected. I'm all about the double-standard!

So ...... hoping to re-hook-up on here. Though I'm finding Facebook to be a bit addictive as well .....

In the meantime, let me leave you with a simple parting wish ..... that your pet elephant not develop a peanut allergy!

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's November Already?!?!?!?!?

OK, so I'm FINALLY sucking it up and getting me some internets ...... fighting for a signal is just too obnoxious. That, plus I keep having all these bloggable thoughts but no way to blog them.

So, yeah. And I know you've heard it all before, so I'm not even gonna bother with all my lines.

Except, at least, for the favorite quote from yesterday's class:

Can I go back to my last classroom and get my shoe? ... I shouldn't have even said anything. I should have just asked to go back and get something I forgot. .... I'm just gonna go get it now. {All the while I'm just too busy laughing to respond.}

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Story of a Vocation II** ... how Steph makes decisions

** Part I here **

Upon returning home for my senior year, I began to feel a little more OK about my place with my classmates, due both to the positive experience in Houston as well as various events of senior year (retreat, misunderstandings with school administration, etc.). So, while in some respects it was too late to develop too many deep bonds, at least I went out on a pretty good note.

Senior year also brought the alleged college-hunt. I say "alleged" because otherwise there's the implication that I was actually looking at different schools. The reality of it, however, was that there was absolutely no looking going on. I'm the youngest of six; the oldest went to Xavier in Cinncinnati, and three of the other four went to Dayton. Living in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (Maryland suburbs), we had no Ohio connections, and therefore no logical reason for all of us to end up out there for school. Apparently, as the story goes, my second sister went along for the ride with a friend's college hunt and called my parents from Dayton saying "This is where I'm going to go." My parents, then, after dropping the oldest at Xavier for her freshman year, stopped by and checked out Dayton.

By the time it got to me, then, I knew the campus pretty well, having visited it gazillions of times over the previous eleven years or so. The others loved it, so there had to be something good there; they had a strong engineering program; I was familiar with the place; and, since my brother was graduating just as I was starting, I at least knew a few people if I got into trouble. While she loved the school, my mom was sick of driving to Ohio (go figure!), so she first tried to get me to look at George Washington --- I wanted at least one tree on my campus, plus I wanted to be a little farther than a Metro ride. We did go check out Villanova, though, but the whole time I was there, I kept saying: "I like Dayton's _____ better. Dayton's _____ are nicer" and so forth. (Open-mindedness was not necessarily my strong suit!) Consequently, I sent out three college applications: Dayton (duh!), Villanova (just cuz), and Maryland (in case something came up and I had to stay home).

So off I went to become a Dayton Flyer.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quoting my Facebook Status ....

Stephanie is finally giving up on the whole "getting internet" thing (too lazy to) and has decided to stop using that as an excuse for being webically absent.

Yes, it's true. I've been way too slackerish and very much missing all my online buddies. {That, plus I've discovered wireless on our balcony!} So, I have returned. Of course, I'm not sure if there's even anyone out there to notice the return anymore, considering what a disappearing friend I've been, but ..... oh well .... I'd deserve it, right?

Anyway, I promise I'll be better. If nothing else, I've at least gotta post those other "Story of a Vocation" pieces ..... give at least a little explanation for the blog-shift.

Regardless, just know that I'm still alive, still teaching, and soon to be blogging once more.

Oh yeah, and I have a kitten, too. But more on her later!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Minor Time-Out

Lots of travel on both coasts (brother in Northern California; family at Delaware beaches)

Moving and attempting to unpack and get settled

Getting new computer but not getting it set up yet

Lots of busy-business like cell phones & license plates

Avoiding thoughts about school

AND, worst of all ...... not having the timeless time-sucker of internet, because neighbors decided to move and took their nonsecure wireless with them, leaving us with the dreaded dial-up. Having been spoiled for too long, I just couldn't bring myself to suffer through it.

Several future chapters of the Story of Vocation have been written on Palmy (pda) on the flights, but have not been able to get them posted (did I mention no internet?) but they'll come soon.

CURSE YOU WI-FI PROTECTIONS!!!!! (Of course, once we get wireless, I guarantee it'll be protected .....)

So ..... sorry for the absence, but it's been much-needed downtime. More to come sooner rather than later, now that I have a mostly-put-together room and will be desperately in need of anti-school avoidance tactics!

At least I've got Panera .......

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Story of a Vocation ... the early years*

I grew up in a good Catholic family — church on Sundays, Advent wreath, mac&cheese on Fridays in Lent, all that good stuff. However, I went to our parish grade school where I was the resident outcast, so for me going to church simply meant that I got to see on Sunday all the people who made my life a living hell the other five days of the week {yes, I realize there are actually six other days of the week, but since sometimes we'd have stuff on Saturdays .... wait a sec, I don't have to defend myself to you. If you don't like what I'm typing, well .... ummmm ..... :-Þ. As I was saying ....}. Needless to say, church was not the most profoundly moving experience for me, and I extended that lack-of-impact over into my classroom experiences. From my memory {which I readily admit is most likely not the reality of how things were}, my eighth-grade scripture class had homework like: Read the first the chapters of Genesis and outline them in proper outline form. So ... Roman Numeral One: Creation. Capital A: The First Day. Number 1: Darkness and Light. While Confirmation was something that we allegedly had a choice in, in actuality, in my mind, there wasn't even an option. Most importantly and obviously, that would imply that I had actually thought about it, which by no means was the case. Besides, if you're already "The Wierd One" that everyone loves to hate, you don't exactly want to give people more material. Then there's the added detail that this is part of the curriculum for the year — like I'm really gonna make my teacher come up with all this other work for me to do instead. So, I went with the crowd and did my Confirmation prep. Lots of questions to answer various nights .... if I didn't do them (which was often the case), I got to stay after school in the principal's office until I finished them, just like with my math or English homework (again, which often happened {have I ever mentioned my slacker-tendencies?}). Hence, religion was a class, just like any other class; reflection was merely homework, just like any other; and the Bible became a textbook, just like any other.

As I continued on into a Catholic high school, religion became even more of an intellectual exercise, with the classes being more academically-focused. I continued going to church on Sundays because, well, that's what you do. We didn't have any of that new-fangled "youth ministry" stuff, so the extent of my involvement was sittin' in the pew. During the summer before my senior year, I did participate in a two-week service project in Houston, although that was more for the chance to get out of town for a bit than for any more altruistic reasons. The project was run by the Society of the Sacred Heart (the religious order that ran my high school; they have twenty-one schools in the US that are connected as the Network of Sacred Heart Schools), and it pulled twelve girls from throughout the Network to come together and work with disadvantaged kids and seniors in a poor Hispanic part of town. We slept on the floor of classrooms, hung out, and had fun. It was a good time, but nothing overly spiritually enthusing, at least that I can remember. It was good, though, in that I didn't feel like such the social outcast {having been so traumatized in grade school, I sabatoged myself in high school and decided that everyone there must not like me either ... a fact that I only began to see the stupidity of during my senior year}, so it was a helpful experience for that.

I was one of the last ones to fly out from Houston at the end of the two weeks, and I remember sitting there in the airport with two of the sisters as they talked to me about what I was planning to do for college. I explained to them how people said I was good in math and science and that perhaps I should consider engineering; my dad knew how much I liked chemistry and suggested chemical engineering. I had never heard of ChemE, but I figured I'd give it a shot — at least until something better came along. Or perhaps I'd do chemistry; I wasn't sure which, but there's a decent overlap if I decided to drop back from the engineering to the pure science side of things.

As I talked to these two sisters about this, one told me how she had started in ChemE as well, but she dropped it for reasons I don't remember anymore. The other one {who had struck me the one night as she, a "nun", came in to tell us "Lights Out" in Ohio State boxers and a t-shirt and instead of getting us all quiet told us the whole story of how she had been engaged before she entered the community} said that she didn't see me as a chemical engineer; "I see you as a teacher, school counselor, or social worker." I told her there was no way — I didn't have the patience for any of that. She insisted that I did, saying that she had seen me with those kids.

Then I got on the plane, flew home, and that was the end of that.

*I don't suppose anyone out there {besides my family} gets the reference in the subject line there .... maybe you'll get a prize if you do .....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

To Guests of My Former Blog

Please feel free to update links to me. My move is in no way motivated by the need to hide, go underground, or anything else. The "email for info" as opposed to a link was just a practical means of eliminating a direct connection between this blog and that one. In the meantime, I'll be attempting to rebuilding my own links from before as well.

So .... welcome to my new home. Please be patient as I slowly get all my boxes unpacked.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A New Beginning

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.
And he replied: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.
~ M. Louise Haskins