Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Keeping track

It is important for us to see our progress in black and white. If you want to improve yourself then keep a journal of your goals and results. You can set up a simple spreadsheet or just use a notebook, but keep track of how you are doing. Share it with a friend and encourage each other. Here would be a basic sheet. After a week see how you are doing and adjust accordingly.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


Laughter is an important part of the human experience. Too often we fail to find something funny or take the time to just laugh. Below is something I found in a church bulletin that made me laugh and just realize how often we take ourselves far too serious.

A 1st grade school teacher had twenty-five students in her class. She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known saying and asked them to come up with the remainder of the saying. Their insights may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year-olds.

1. Don't change horses...until they stop running.
2. Strike while the...bug is close.
3. It's always darkest before...Daylight Saving Time.
4. Never underestimate the power of...termites.
5. You can lead a horse to water but...How?
6. Don't bite the hand that...looks dirty.
7. No news is...impossible.
8. A miss is as good as a...Mr.
9. You can't teach an old dog new...Math.
10. If you lie down with dogs, you'll...stink in the morning.
11. Love all, trust...Me.
12. The pen is mightier than the...pigs.
13. An idle mind is...the best way to relax.
14. Where there's smoke there's...pollution.
15. Happy the bride who...gets all the presents.
16. A penny saved is...not much.
17. Two's company, three's...the Musketeers.
18. Don't put off till tomorrow put on to go to bed.
19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and...You have to blow your nose.
20. There are none so blind as...Stevie Wonder.
21. Children should be seen and not...spanked or grounded.
22. If at first you don't succeed...get new batteries.
23. You get out of something only what you...see in the picture on the box.
24. When the blind lead the blind...get out of the way.
25. A bird in the going to make a mess on you.

Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

If "healthy eating" makes you think about the foods you can't have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—

  • Fresh fruits ― don’t think just apples or bananas. These are great choices, but try some "exotic" fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren't in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  • Fresh vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven't tried like rosemary. You can sauté vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says "eat more dairy products." But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while and balance them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

  • Some general tips for comfort foods:
    Consume them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You'll be cutting your calories because you're not having the food as often.

  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher calorie food is an afternoon chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar. Be careful! This technique works well for some people, but others may find it is too tempting to have their favorite food available, even in smaller amounts.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare it differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size

The point is, you can figure out how to include almost any food in your healthy eating plan in a way that still helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Being consistently healthy in your eating choices is the key. Making the same healthy eating choices over time can lead to better eating habits. By thinking more positively and focusing on what you can have, you'll help yourself establish healthy eating habits.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Importance of Faith

Too often in our world we depend on things that will eventually fail; people, institutions or things. There is only one thing that will never ultimately fail us no matter what happens and that is our Faith in God. While some might argue that God has forgotten them or did not come through for them, the truth is God created each and everyone of us for one specific reason; to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Thus, it would not make sense for God not to do what is best for us. The problem many of us face is that we do not always see what God desires for us as a good thing.

It is a deep and vibrant faith life that will help each of us see God clearly in our daily lives and accept all that Divine Providence brings our way. Faith is not just a nice idea but it is putting our trust in that which we cannot often see. I find many people want God to draw them a map of life, while He prefers to simply guide the way and allow each of us to step out in faith.

So how do you get a stronger faith life? You work at it on a daily basis. You begin by changing your outlook on life and the things that happen to you. Start by realizing there are no coincidences in life but instead there is only God's Providence for each of us. What is Providence? The Catholic Encyclopedia says this: "As applied to God, Providence is God Himself considered in that act by which in His wisdom He so orders all events within the universe that the end for which it was created may be realized. That end is that all creatures should manifest the glory of God, and in particular that man should glorify Him, recognizing in nature the work of His hand, serving Him in obedience and love, and thereby attaining to the full development of his nature and to eternal happiness in God." Simply put it means that God will guide things towards Himself at all times. While one might think this takes away our freedom it really sets us free; free to be the men and women God created us to be.

So when you wake up in the morning simply kneel down beside your bed and make an act of abandonment to Divine Providence. Below is a prayer written by St. Jane Frances de Chantal and is pretty hardcore so if you are just getting started a simple prayer like this would suffice: O God I place my life in Your hands. I trust in Your Divine Will for me and will follow it to the best of my ability today without questioning why me. Amen

Act of Abandonment to Divine Providence

This prayer was written by St. Jane Frances de Chantal

0 sovereign goodness of the sovereign Providence of my God! I abandon myself forever to Thy arms. Whether gentle or severe, lead me henceforth whither Thou wilt; I will not regard the way through which Thou wilt have me pass, but keep my eyes fixed upon Thee, my God, who guidest me. My soul finds no rest without the arms and the bosom of this heavenly Providence, my true Mother, my strength and my rampart.

Therefore I resolve with Thy divine assistance, 0 my Savior, to follow Thy desires and Thy ordinances, without regarding or examining why Thou dost this rather than that; but I will blindly follow Thee according to Thy divine will, without seeking my own inclinations.

Hence I am determined to leave all to Thee, taking no part therein save by keeping myself in peace in Thy arms, desiring nothing except as Thou incitest me to desire, to will, to wish. I offer Thee this desire, 0 my God, beseeching Thee to bless it; I undertake all it includes, relying on Thy goodness, liberality, and mercy, with entire confidence in Thee, distrust of myself, and knowledge of my infinite misery and infirmity.


Prayer Source: Prayers from Various Websites

So this week take time to strengthen your faith by trusting in all that God brings your way. If you find yourself thinking about someone; pray for them, give them a call or write them a letter and just say Hello. You will begin to see that God is working constantly in our lives through each other. It was not an accident you ran into someone at the Union or the readings for Mass spoke to you in a particular way.

Take time to share your faith with another person this week as well. It is important for us to share our faith lives with others so that we might grow in holiness as a community.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intellectual Formation

Too often we fail to keep our minds sharp. One way to do this is by reading something that is not required and has been seen by others as a good piece of literature. Therefore I am including Br. Randall's (Br. Randall was the librarian at the North American College for many years) list of books one should read in their lifetime. Of course we can dispute which books belong but this is at least a start. Pick one and take this time during Lent to read 15 minutes a day. You will be surprised how much you can get read when you just do it.

Austen, J. Pride and Prdjudice
Sense and Sensibility
Bennett, A. Old Wives' Tale
Clayhanger Trilogy
Bernanos, G. Diary of a Country Priest
Blackmore, R. Lorna Doone
Bronte, C. Jayne Eyre
Buck, P. Good Earth
Cather, W. Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chesterton, G.K. Father Brown Series
Collins, W. Moonstone
Woman in White
Conrad, J. Lord Jim
Cooper, J.F. Last of the Mohicans
Crane, S. Red Badge of Courage
Cronin, A.J. Green Years
Keys of the Kingdom
Defoe, D. Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, C. David Copperfield
Pickwick Papers
Tale of Two Cities
Great Expectations
Oliver Twist
Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment
Brothers Karamazov
Doyle, C. Sherlock Holmes
Fitzgerald, F.S. Great Gatsby
Flaubert, G. Madame Bovary
Galsworthy, J. Forsyte Saga
Greene, G. Labyrinthe Ways (Power and the Glory)
Heart of the Matter
End of the Affair
Hawthorne, N. Scarlet Letter
Marble Faun
House of Seven Gables
Hemingway, E. Old Man and the Sea
For Whom the Bells Toll
Hilton, J. Goodbye Mr. Chips
Lost Horizons
Howells, W.D. Rise of Silas Lapham
Eliot, G. Silas Marner
Mills on the Floss
Hugo, V. Les Miserables
James, H. Daisy Miller
The Ambassadors
Portrait of a Lady
Joyce, J. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kipling, R. Kim
Lampedusa The Leopard
Lewis, S. Main Street
London, J. White Fang
Call of the Wild
Mann, T. Buddenbrooks
Manzoni, A. The Betrothed
Marquand, J.P. Late George Apley
Mauriac, F. Vipers' Tangle
Melville, H. Moby Dick
Mitchell, M. Gone With the Wind
O'Connor, E. Last Hurrah
Edge of Sadness
O'Henry (Porter) short stories
Pasternak, B. Dr. Zhivago
Paton, A. Too Late the Phalarop
Cry the Beloved Country
Potak, C. The Chosen
My Name is Asher Lev
Rawlings, M.K. The Yearling
Remarque, E.M. All Quiet on the Western Front
Roberts, K. North West Passage
Reade, C. Cloister and the Hearth
Scott, W. Hearts of Midlothian
Solzhentsyn, A. Cancer Ward
Day in the Life of I. Demoshevit
Inner Circle
Steinbeck, J. Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, R.L. Treaure Island
Master of Ballantrae
Swift, J. Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, W.M. Vanity Fair
Tolstoy, L. War and Peace
Anna Karenina
Trollope, A. The Warden
Barchester Towers
Undset, S. Kristin Lavransdatter
Waugh, E. The Loved One
Brideshead Revisited
Sword of Honor
Wharton, E. Age of Innocence
Ethan Frome
Wodehouse, P.G. Jeeves or -----
Wolfe, T. Look Homeward Angel
You Can't Go Home Again
the Fairy Tales of both:
The Brothers Grimm, and H.C. Andersen


One of the main focuses during Lent is the ability for each of us to sacrifice something for a greater good. Parents do this all the time with their children. The Church invites each of us to willing give up something in order to strengthen our wills towards the ultimate good; God. I have often said to people, "If you can't say No to a chocolate chip cookie. How will you ever say No to your boyfriend or girlfriend?" So during this time it can be helpful to think about what do you do a lot that is really not necessary. For some of you that has been giving up Facebook, pop, chocolate, TV or something along those lines. The Italian bishops encouraged their people to forgo texting on Fridays during Lent. Their reasoning behind it is the danger we can fall into when our entire lives revolve around communicating via electronic mediums. There is no substitute for a good one on one face to face conversation with another person. This will also benefit our prayer life; for there is no better direct line to God than a simple quiet moment in the chapel.

The purpose of our sacrifices is not so that others might see them but that we might acknowledge our own struggle to be free from the things of this world. Christ calls each and every one of us to be set free and yet Satan is constantly working to keep us bound to the things of this world. As you strive for growth in holiness ask the Lord to point out what things are keeping you from a deeper relationship with Him and your neighbor.

For me during Lent I make an effort to write actual handwritten letters to people. While my handwriting makes reading these a little difficult I believe the sacrifice and effort put forth is worth it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Getting Started Physically

Getting Started on Becoming Healthier

Step 1: Make a commitment.

Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself. Many people find it helpful to sign a written contract committing to the process. This contract may include things like the amount of weight you want to lose, the date you’d like to lose the weight by, the dietary changes you’ll make to establish healthy eating habits, and a plan for getting regular physical activity.

Writing down the reasons why you want to lose weight can also help. It might be because you have a family history of heart disease, or because you want to see your kids get married, or simply because you want to feel better in your clothes. Post these reasons where they serve as a daily reminder of why you want to make this change.

Step 2: Take stock of where you are.

Consider talking to your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your height, weight, and explore other weight-related risk factors you may have. Ask for a follow-up appointment to monitor changes in your weight or any related health conditions.

Keep a "food diary" for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat. By doing this, you become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid mindless eating.

Next, examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. For example, does your work or travel schedule make it difficult to get enough physical activity? Do you find yourself eating sugary foods because that's what you buy for your kids? Do your coworkers frequently bring high-calorie items, such as doughnuts, to the workplace to share with everyone? Think through things you can do to help overcome these challenges.

Finally, think about aspects of your lifestyle that can help you lose weight. For example, is there an area near your workplace where you and some coworkers can take a walk at lunchtime? Is there a place in your community, such as a YMCA, with exercise facilities for you and child care for your kids?

Step 3: Set realistic goals.

Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and to control your high blood pressure, some short-term eating and physical activity goals might be to start eating breakfast, taking a 15 minute walk in the evenings, or having a salad or vegetable with supper.

Focus on two or three goals at a time. Great, effective goals are —



Forgiving (less than perfect)

For example, "Exercise More" is not a specific goal. But if you say, "I will walk 15 minutes, 3 days a week for the first week," you are setting a specific and realistic goal for the first week.

Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run. Also remember that realistic goals are achievable goals. By achieving your short-term goals day-by-day, you'll feel good about your progress and be motivated to continue. Setting unrealistic goals, such as losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks, can leave you feeling defeated and frustrated.

Being realistic also means expecting occasional setbacks. Setbacks happen when you get away from your plan for whatever reason – maybe the holidays, longer work hours, or another life change. When setbacks happen, get back on track as quickly as possible. Also take some time to think about what you would do differently if a similar situation happens, to prevent setbacks.

Keep in mind everyone is different – what works for someone else might not be right for you. Just because your neighbor lost weight by taking up running, doesn't mean running is the best option for you. Try a variety of activities – walking, swimming, tennis, or group exercise classes to see what you enjoy most and can fit into your life. These activities will be easier to stick with over the long term.

Step 4: Identify resources for information and support.

Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support. You might have coworkers or neighbors with similar goals, and together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise.

Joining a weight loss group or visiting a health care professional such as a registered dietitian, can help.

Step 5: Continually "check in" with yourself to monitor your progress.

Revisit the goals you set for yourself (in Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly. If you set a goal to walk each morning but are having trouble fitting it in before work, see if you can shift your work hours or if you can get your walk in at lunchtime or after work. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working well and which ones need tweaking. Then rewrite your goals and plan accordingly.

If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new goal to help you continue on your pathway to success.

Reward yourself for your successes! Recognize when you’re meeting your goals and be proud of your progress. Use non-food rewards, such as a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, a sports outing with friends, or a relaxing bath. Rewards help keep you motivated on the path to better health.

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