27 February 2013

Meeting in the Middle

I've really enjoyed writing in my blog more frequently lately. I don't have friends here who I can talk to about these things, and phone calls are hard to coordinate and I just feel like I don't remember to talk about all the things I need to process. (I process mentally by talking, or in this case typing I guess... go figure.) This has been an awesome outlet for me.. I'm reminded of who I am, even if no one reads it. It attempts to take the temporary place of my Allison <3. 

I've realized that if anyone from work or my life here at home were to read my blog, they'd probably be confused about who I am. I need to work on making the two halves meet. On one hand, I'm really outgoing, and let's face it, downright hysterical. On the other, I really think a lot and have a lot of depth. Is this problem the constant companion of an extrovert developing an interior life? Who knows?!

I realized that I need to be different. Holiness means set aside, or set apart. I don't often do a very good job of behaving as if I've been set apart... not by myself, for myself, or of my own accord, but by the Lord, for Him, and in His good mercy and pleasure. 

I need to be better at professing Christ in the big ways and the little.

Last week at work we had to submit a brief "bio" for an internal website where people can look up employees of the company. One of the questions was "What is your personal mission statement?"

A lot of people wrote things about growing professionally and personally, things about success and goals and satisfaction and enjoyment.

I debated with myself. I wasn't sure if I should put a Bible verse or just a quote from it. For one, I didn't know if it'd be "appropriate" to quote the Bible in my personal mission statement. Second, I didn't know if I wanted to be pegged as "that girl." Thirdly and most importantly, I didn't want Jesus to think I am ashamed of Him. (I know I'm giving Him a lot of human qualities and not a lot of divine ones here... and I know He knows my heart regardless of my actions... but still.)

My fear of being ashamed of Jesus won out, and I put Proverbs 3:5-6, which states "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight."

Looking back on it, I think I should have gone with my other option, which is simply "lean not on your own understanding." In a way, I think the quote by itself might have hit home to more people. In a world of constant self-betterment and blatant displays of people selling themselves, it says "I don't know what I'm doing... I'm not even going to pretend... but I do know someone who knows, and I can introduce you to Him, if you'd like."

Oh well, what's done is done!

St. Bernard, pray for us.

26 February 2013

Talking a Big Game

So, I'm in the world. It's not a bad place here. The good in people is apparent. Beautiful, even.

So many people desire Jesus. Most of them don't know He's what's missing.

I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people, mostly about things not pertaining to Jesus or religion.

A lot of times, people talk about drinking. You should hear the way they talk too.
At work, a lot of stories start out with "we were so drunk this one night" or "once when I was wasted" or "on Friday when I got home, I just got drunk." WHY? Do people not have anything better to talk about, really?

Let me tell you about being a missionary. I drank A LOT as a missionary. NOT at once, just pretty frequently. It isn't rare that missionaries have a couple drinks, at LEAST one or two times per week. It comes with the territory! I was reaching out to college students, most college students like to drink, the Apostles drank, Jesus Himself turned water into wine... so why not? Alcohol isn't inherently bad!

This week, I went out with my colleagues. Beforehand, a lot of them said things like "I can't wait to get obliterated tonight" and "we're going to get crazy." You want to know what happened? We stayed at a bar for 2 hours... we all ate... and not one person had more than two drinks. We had a great time!

Maybe this isn't typical of their "going out" extravaganzas... I'm not sure. But no one got crazy. I know for a fact that people drink and even drink to get drunk... but how often, I wonder? Are they all just talking a big game? It seemed to me that the only difference between this outing and one that I'd go on with my missionary friends/students is the way that alcohol was talked about. Even this morning a guy came in and said something about "oh man, after last night..." and I was like what on earth... you had one drink.

It's so weird, because I also know that when I was a missionary, a lot of our students were drinking and getting drunk, and then not talking about it to anyone who they thought might want to call them to a higher standard. It seems as if some of my colleagues use drunkenness (or at least drunken stories) as a thermometer to measure how cool someone is... what is this, high school? Been there, done that, got ten t-shirts... not interested in going backwards. They really are great people, I like them all a tremendous amount... I just don't understand why we constantly refer back to alcohol as a source of entertainment.

It reminds me of a story in the Bible (although I can't find it right now) where two men are called to go do something(?) for the Lord. One says he will go, and when the time comes, he stays home. One says he will not go, but when the time comes, he goes anyways. (Vague... and I'm ashamed at my lack of Bible knowledge... but have you heard of the story I'm talking about?)

One thing I have been thinking about lately is this line from St. Paul's first letter to Corinth:
"To the weak, I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have some share in it."

Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us!

21 February 2013

The 8 to 5 Grind!

Well, some awesome things happened this week.

For one, I got my first paid day off, and I have a new found appreciation for President's Day. In general, when the markets are closed, we're off, and that's pretty sweet.

Also, I'm learning more about why God wants me in this job. I can see, even here at the very beginning of my career, how people work (even from day one) to retire. It seems like everyone in the corporate world, even if they really enjoy what they're doing, only work so that they can retire, and retire well. Why? Well, if you work in the finance industry, you know how much money it takes to live comfortably after retirement. If you understand that your 5 dollar cup of Starbucks now could buy you almost a hundred dollars worth of anything when you're 65, you're a lot more likely to be sipping that Folger's black magic from home.

I really believe that God can be found in work. (Hard work. Thanks, Auburn Creed.) I also believe that God can be found in holy leisure. Once I get my license, I will be in a really unique and awesome position to be able to give people advice about how to make their money work for them. We'll call it working smarter, not harder. I do feel like this field is geared particularly towards men, but I know that I have to work with what I've got, and God has blessed me with an interest in these things that are boring to a lot of people... not to mention that I'm pretty good at it.) If I can help to educate people, especially men who are financially responsible for their entire families, hopefully I can make a small difference in family life. "Man-children" become men when they are challenged (inspired) to lead. Also, when your money is working for you, it leaves you the peace of mind to be able to spend more time with your family, and isn't that really what it's all about?

On Monday, I got to have a really awesome Holy Hour, and I know that Jesus needs to see more of me. Rather, I need to see more of Him. I'm not pressuring myself though,  I know it will take time to get the kinks worked out. Right now, I wake up at 6:30, leave at 7:30, get home at 5:30, and in the time between getting home and going to bed (around 10:30), I have to eat dinner, pray, work out, and study for at least 2 hours. This week, the praying and the working out have taken a back seat. But it's Lent! It's the season of 180's!

Today I felt like a real professional, probably for the first time. I wore a business dress with a suit jacket with my badge attached to my left pocket, tights and heels to work. I walked past the janitor as I was heading back to the training room, and it hit me how blessed I am. Here we are, me and him, both working in the same building. He's old, I'm young. We're both just trying to make it. I have been given some radical opportunities, and at 23, I probably make more than he's ever made. I'm not sure how this plays into the notion of the American Dream, but I know that God is real and that He is good. We are all members of the same body, but not all body parts can do the same things. I wonder if I would feel like this if I were the janitor.

I'm going to Mass tomorrow after work, and I'll be praying for you!

St. Matthew, pray for us.

17 February 2013

Week One Reflections

Well, folks, I did it!

I survived my first week in Corporate America!

A few things I've learned:

Even though I thought I worked 24/7 as a missionary (and in some cases I did), working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is exhausting! When I get home at 5:15, I can't think about anything for at least an hour, and I want to go to bed around 9 every night. Free time is a thing of the past my friends.

6AM sucks, God made it dark because we're supposed to be sleeping!!

I'm SO thankful to live so close! I leave at 7:30 and am in the office with my coffee by 7:55. Some of the people in my "new hire" class leave at 7 and fight traffic for an hour on the way to work.

I'm now bad at returning phone calls, praying holy hours, and thinking about anything but finance. (This will get better as I get used to my schedule and have less studying to do.)

My new hire class is full of really awesome people. The people you work with really make it or break it!

The Series 7 is going to be the hardest test I've ever taken. I've studied at least three hours per day so far... it's going to be a long road to May!

I am SO BLESSED to have these kinds of opportunities, this is right where God wants me right now, and Fidelity is an awesome company.

I have some things I want to say about Lent, but I'm gonna pray about it a little more to clarify my thoughts in my head (sometimes I really sound like an introvert!) and I'll keep you posted.

Blessed John Paul the Great, pray for us!

11 February 2013

Financial Career: Day One

Woah. Today really happened.

Let me tell you first how freakishly nervous I was last night. I distracted myself by thinking of hypothetical scenarios where different people came over to my house and I talked to them about Jesus and they converted to Catholicism. Hahahhaha, I would.

I was more nervous than I ever remember being in my whole life. I'm not sure why I was so nervous, they wanted me, they gave me the job! I realized it was fear of the unknown. Only two other things I could think of would make me more nervous.

Also, I googled "what to expect on your first day of work" and read about ten pages worth of stuff. I'm a dork.

So, what is it like on the first day of life in corporate America?

Well, I got to Fidelity, they gave me my badge, and I headed down to training.
They provided breakfast, and the first half of the day was HR stuff: benefits, insurance, vision, mission, etc. I kinda like learning about all of that stuff, but it probably seems boring to you.

Then, we moved into the training room where we will be training from 8 to 5 everyday for the next five weeks! We did a lot of ice breaker type stuff... not actually as lame as I usually think those things are. We talked about the corporate culture at Fidelity and the things we expect and what is expected of us over the next five weeks. My "class" only has six girls in it, but they're all cool and I think we've all kinda realized that as women in this industry we need to stick together. The guys are cool too.

I had a conversation with one of the guys at one point and he said something that I didn't agree with. I must wear my feelings on my face because he looked at me and then said that I might have a different perspective because I was a missionary. The thing he said wasn't an issue of absolute truth, more of opinion with some moral significance, I suppose, but I felt bad for seeming "judgmental." The Christian Life is about love, and I have no hope of preaching the Gospel to anyone if I don't learn to love the people around me.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation from Petrine Ministry. When I got home, I wondered if I was wasting my time in a job that makes it unable for me to attend Mass on a daily basis. I need someone to tell me it's okay to not pray a daily HH in the chapel and attend daily Mass. More importantly, I suppose, I need to convince myself of its truth.

I am saddened by Papa's stepping down. I am secretly jealous of him because I heard that after his holiday at the Vatican summer house, he will enter the cloister, where he will remain with his brilliant thoughts, all kinds of books, music, etc. until God calls him home. I pray for his health.

 I know God brings greater good out of all things. I pray that the new Pope will be a great conduit for the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to move, and I know he will be a great servant of the New Evangelization in this Year of Faith and for the future of the Church.

If I had a vote, I'd pick Cardinal Dolan! An American Pope would show the world that the Church is not dead, in fact quite the opposite, in the most advanced nation in the world. What a witness! And we could show the rest of the world what this New Evangelization is really about!! (Pride, pride, pride, I know.) FOCUS could go international!!

I've had a lot to say lately! I'm excited for Lent and some good Lenten posts. What are you giving up? What are you taking on? Let me know!

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

10 February 2013

Life Lately

First up: How about those Mass readings today?! LOVE.


So tomorrow is the day all of my fun comes to an end. (Just kidding.)

But yes, I will be entering the "real world" and starting my financial career in just ten short hours! AHHH. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it!!

After my awesome 3+ week visit to Auburn, I came home and decided to do something productive with my remaining two weeks of freedom. So I cleaned out the garage! It was awesome! I love being organized, and for the first time in over five years, all of my things are in one location and are organized. I threw away a lot, gave away a lot, and organized the rest!

The garage took me almost a week of working on it every day for 3-4 hours. Crazy!

Also, I moved bedrooms. In my old bedroom, there was a wall of mirrors, which I dismantled. I was thinking about what to do with all of the random sized mirrors, and of course, I thought I should break them!

Commence: project that took far too long and far too many trips to Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, and Lowe's!

Since I rarely post pictures on my blog,  I decided to give you a walk through of how things went down.

First, we (Aria and I) went to Home Depot. What a fiasco!! Two girls, completely lost in a hardware store, trying to make an idea into a reality, with a few men (one of them on his first day as a Home Depot employee, haha) trying to keep us from making our dreams come true! (Just kidding, but kinda.) We each bought a 2x4 piece of plywood, some already mixed grout, a grout spreader thing (which I accidentally stole!! Don't worry, I went back and paid for it!), and gloves. We broke the mirrors in a tub with a hammer, using our sunnies as our official protective eyewear. (Safety first!)

Here's mine at the end of Day 1:

Then we ran out of grout... even after Home Depot man told us we had plenty. But, we wanted colored grout anyways so it was okay. The new Home Depot guy told me I could color grout with food coloring, but that seemed a little sketch so I wikihow'd it. (That's a verb now.) Wikihow said to use paint, which made more sense to me. So we went to Hobbs Lobbs because I found out they had a mosaic section. (Aria calls them moziaks, not on purpose, it's hilarious.) We got powdered grout and acrylic paint to dye it, blue for me, purple for Aria. Mixing it was a nightmare, I ran out again and unfortunately, Aria bought black grout, so that meant we had to take another trip. We went to Home Depot again (we know our way around by this point) and got already mixed grout, brought it home, dyed it with paint, and spread it over the top!

Here's mine at the end of Day 2:

Unfortunately, no one told us we had to wipe it off the mirrors before it dried... so this morning we went outside to just windex it and clean it up, and could not get the grout off the mirrors, causing a trip to Lowe's. We would have gone to HD but we were closer to Lowe's so we went there. Lowe's is laid out totally different from HD so we looked like two lost puppies yet again. We bought some grout remover and a scrape-y thing, and finally finished the project! PTL.

Here's the final product! I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

Also, things that could be overheard working on the project:
"We just ruined that kid's first day of work."
"This was a mistake."
"Is this even going to work?"
"I feel like a real artist."
"What do you think this song means?" (multiple times)
"Who is Nicki Minaj, does she sing that 'boom boom pow' song?
"I feel like a sculptor."
"Well... at least it was a learning experience?"
"Bing... tink." (glass breaking, duh)
"I can't walk, my leg's asleep."

Needless to say, we had a ton of fun, and are both really happy with the outcomes.

Now please pray for me to not stick my foot in my mouth on my first day, or trip, or do anything stupid.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us.

08 February 2013

What would you do...

if money wasn't an object?

(Replace money with time if necessary, or really whatever holds you back, I suppose.)

I think this is a great question. For me, money is the issue. Between paying on student loans, and my finance degree's wisdom of "what I could have done if I'd started saving for my retirement at age 6"... I think it's a crux for me.

Now, I'm not asking you to get crazy and start thinking of all the possible "what ifs," just to try to imagine what you'd be doing, in the day in and day out of life, if there were no obstacles.

I suppose a lot of people's first reaction would be to take an extravagant vacation, or to go to another country, or even to go visit distant relatives. These are all good things, but when you think about what your daily life would look like if there were no obstacles, what would you be doing?

I think in the discernment of this question, we can find the answers to our heart's desires. I think we can find a glimpse of Heaven in these musings.

My first inclination is that I would be a stay-at-home mom. But that requires a husband and children, which money cannot buy. (To those of you who read this blog and think that being a stay-at-home mom isn't a "real" job or that the very idea is oppressive to women, please excuse my lack of worldly ambition in exchange for the desires of a feminine heart... and my sarcastic remark.)

Seeing as I cannot at this point make decisions for a future family or lack thereof, I think I'd go to medical school (if I could get in). I am so interested in how God made the human body to work, and how all of it proclaims that He is good. I've always been really interested in obstetrics.. the idea of helping to bring a new life into the world is amazing! I think doctors can evangelize their patients in radical ways, and often their patients are vulnerable and ready to hear the Good News.

If not medical school, I would definitely do some sort of mission work. For now, my mission is here at home, with my new family and my new job. Thanks be to God!

I think over the years, my answer to this question will change. I don't think it's healthy to live in an ideal world all of the time, but it's good to reassess your values every once in a while, to remember why you're doing the things you're doing. That being said, life is far too short to spend it doing something you hate.

Does this post sound condescending? If so, my apologies, it was not meant to be.

I seem to do my best thinking after midnight. Strange.

St. Rose of Lima, pray for us.