Catholicism in the Culture: Sin, Crime, and the Duggars

Catholicism in the culture: Sin and Crime @emily_m_deardo

Earlier this week, I read this article in the Washington Post about Josh Duggar’s inappropriate (and quite frankly, gross) actions against several of his sisters and another family friend. That alone isn’t worth blogging about, though. What is worth writing about are are similarities and difference between sin and crime–something that the author of this piece doesn’t seem to understand. The author seems to think that “repentance” is equal to getting off scot-free, and that there isn’t any sort of price to be paid for committing sin, whereas with a crime, there is a cost–jail, usually, or a fine of some sort.

When you treat this as a sin instead of a crime, you let everyone down…The behavior alleged was a crime, not a sin.

Actually, it’s both. If I commit murder, I have sinned and committed a crime. Same with theft, abuse, using illegal drugs, etc. There are some things that are sins but aren’t crimes, like adultery. You can’t go to jail for sleeping with your co-worker’s wife. No one’s going to lock me up for not observing the sabbath or for taking God’s name in vain (at least in the United States).

Let’s look at a few terms, here, because the author didn’t, and that’s a big problem.

First off, what is sin? Here’s how the Catechism defines it:

1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”121

1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”122 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation

There are also different types of sin. 

We see, in this definition of sin, that no sin only hurts one person. Sin is an offense against God. It is opposed to grace. Sin removes grace from your soul, and places you farther from God.

Now, what is crime? According to Merriam-Webster, crime is:

: an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government

: activity that is against the law : illegal acts in general

: an act that is foolish or wrong

So both sin and crime are about doing things that are wrong, whether by God’s law, the law of the state/country/county, or by Natural Moral Law.  Essentially, Natural Moral Law states that even if you never met a Christian, read the Bible, or ever heard of Jesus Christ, there are some things that humans know are intuitively wrong. As Catholicism for Dummies puts it:

Moral law is natural because it’s known by reason — not written in stone or on paper, like the Commandments or the Bible. It’s moral because it applies only to moral acts — actions of human beings that involve a free act of the will. (It doesn’t apply to animals, because they don’t have the use of reason.)

What Josh Duggar did (and he confessed to doing it, so this isn’t alleged behavior) is both a sin and a crime. He committed a sin by violating one of God’s commandments–sexual acts outside of marriage are wrong. (While the Duggars have some pretty extreme courtship measures, the general message of “no sexual activity until you’re married” is a tenant of Catholicism, as well. But full-frontal hugs are allowed, and I never dated with my siblings as a chaperone, etc. The Duggars embrace a pretty hard-core version of purity, which the article discusses.) So that’s sin. However, it’s also illegal to perform sexual activities on others without their consent, so that’s the crime portion of the situation. Both require confession and punishment/penance, but they go about it differently.

If the Duggars were Catholic, they would have strongly suggested that Josh confess this sin (you can’t compel a confession. The penitent has to come to it of his own free will and with a proper spirit of contrition), and he would have received a penance.  After the penance was completed, Josh would have been fully absolved from the sin, thus returning to a state of grace and a state of friendship with God. The Catechism says (my emphases)

1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.”73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.”74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:77

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78

(The entire section on confession is worth a read, if you’re interested, or this post)

So, not only would Josh’s sins have been forgiven after confession, but he also would’ve received grace to strengthen him against committing sin again. (as I tell my first graders–GRACE IS AWESOME.)

Now, that being said–confession heals the person’s relationship with God. When criminal activity occurs, the Church believes that the process of law and due process has to happen for the common good of society. For example, if a murderer comes and confesses his sin, the priest will strongly urge that person to confess to the authorities, as well. It’s part and parcel of justice, which is a virtue. If you steal, you not only confess it–you have to pay back what you stole.

So, yes, Josh’s parents would’ve had to turn him in to the authorities. What happens after the crime has been admitted is a different thing in different localities, and thus outside the realm of this discussion.

However, the thing to remember is that sin hurts everyone. When you sin, you don’t just confess and get off scot free. There has to be penance, there has to be contrition and yes, you have to do your penance. The author of this piece is wrong when she suggests that sin and crime are different things, and that one is more or less serious than the other. Sin and crime are both offenses against other people, and both must be dealt with accordingly, whether sacramentally or judicially.

Travelogue: Washington, D.C.

travelogue D.C. @emily_m_deardo

Two of my friends and I made a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. over the past weekend for Dominican ordinations. We were in town Thursday-Saturday afternoon, and a lot of that was spent with the Dominicans, so this isn’t a typical travel post, but, like the others, I do note where we stayed and what we did, so you can do the same when you’re in D.C., if you’re so inclined. (Every place I mention that’s bolded is linked at the bottom of the post)

First off, we had amazing weather. It was in the 70s and just perfect. No rain, no clouds–perfect. Which was good, because we did a lot of walking and being outside!

We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel on Scott Circle, near Embassy Row. This worked out really well because they had great valet parking, and we were very close to the Dominican House of Studies (DHS)which is where a lot of the weekend activities were going to be happening. Scott Circle is in the residential part of D.C. We were pretty far past the usual tourist places (the Capitol, the Smithsonians, the White House, etc.), so it was also fairly quiet and not touristy, which was nice. Also–chocolate chip cookies when you check in to the hotel. WIN. Our room was perfectly adequate for three people, even if the bathroom did get crowded in the mornings with three women using it. 🙂

On Thursday afternoon after checking in, we went to the DHS for the Office of Readings and Vespers, and then went to dinner at the Potbelly Sandwich Works on Monroe Avenue, down the street from the DHS. The DHS is across the street from the Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The last time I was in their neighborhood (11 years ago), it was sort of scary after dark, but now it’s become really beautiful and here and there are all sorts of little shops and restaurants that have sprung up. Potbelly is one of them. Dinner was quick because we had to get the friars back for holy hour, which was at 7:00, and then compline right after. So most of the first day was spent entirely at the DHS. We got back to the hotel around nine.

The next morning was actual ordination day. The ordinations were held at St. Dominic’s Church in D.C. which is (duh) run by Dominicans.

D.C travelogue @emily_m_deardo

One of the order’s mottoes in stained glass

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The institution of the second and third orders (Love this!) at St. Dominic’s.

The church was packed. I counted several religious orders in attendance: the Missionaries of Charity (yeah, that got me excited. Mother Teresa’s nuns! In person!), a Benedictine monk and nun, a Norbertine, a Sister of Life, and of course Dominicans, including the extern sister from the Summit Dominicans, Sr. Mary Magdalene, and Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (Ann Arbor). The Mass was beautiful and was presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) to Ireland.

After Mass, we headed back to the DHS for the first party of the day. Their cloister garden was beautiful and the perfect setting for this.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

View from the House of Studies’ front door–that’s CUA in the foreground and the basilica behind.

D.C. travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Mary in the cloister garden.

D.C. travelogue @ emily_m_deardo

Aren’t these gorgeous?

After the lunch party, we headed to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conceptionwhich is the national church for the United States, and is just amazing. Here I visited the shops and got some gifts, as well as books for me. Because, yes, a good Dominican loves bookstores, especially religious ones! I also visited the sanctuary to pray and light candles for people.  It was also really cool to see the Jubilee Year doors (see below)–I’d never seen them in person before.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Our Lady of China inside the basilica

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Our Lady of Guadalupe

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Basilica interior

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The Jubilee Year doors for the Year of Mercy with the papal coat of arms above.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

Outside the basilica, enjoying the gorgeous weather!

After the basilica, we had dinner at Busboys and Poets,which is basically my Dream Business. It’s a cafe and bookstore (the bookstore is stocked by Politics and Prose, which we visited the next day). The staff was super-friendly and the seating was eclectic (there were velvet chairs!) and comfortable. The food, by the way, was great. My burger was the Ideal Burger.

Dinner was followed by party two, which was less formal than the lunch party, at the DHS. The entertainment was provided by the student brothers’ jazz band, and drinks and h’ors d’oeuvres were served. The party went until 9:30, when Compline was said in the chapel, and I had a great time talking to one of the brothers about Jane and literature. Because that’s how I party, guys.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The student brothers’ band playing in the cloister garden.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The garden at twilight

Saturday started with lauds and Mass at the DHS, followed by breakfast at Busboys and Poets again. I’m glad to report that breakfast was just as good as dinner had been. If I lived in this neighborhood, I’d be here all the time. It was so fun. There were a bunch of fathers having breakfast with their daughters, which was also adorable. We stopped back up at the DHS to say good-bye to the brothers, then headed the Franciscan Monastery on Quincy Street.

Guys–their garden is amazing. Seriously, it’s going to need its own post, so I can just do all photos of the amazing flowers. Around the garden was a walkway which had all the mysteries of the rosary done in mosaic, accompanied by the Haily Mary in just about every language ever known to man, including:

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The Hail Mary in Scottish Gaelic.

DC travelogue @emily_m_deardo

The Hail Mary in Yucatan hieroglypics. Really.

So–more on the Monastery later, I promise, because it was amazing. The garden alone made me want to be a Franciscan!

The monastery was followed by our final D.C. stop, Politics and Prose on Connecticut Ave., so I could sate my Independent Bookstore thirst. P&P is pretty famous in the D.C. area, and for good reason–it’s crazily well-stocked and has tons of author events (there was actually one going on when we were there), and has a book printing press, if you want to get your Great American Novel published. It’s two floors (with an elevator)–cafe, sale books, and kids’ books are on the lower level, and everything else is on the first floor. You will have to climb on the shelves to get certain books. It’s not a great place for short people, but the staff is very helpful! But I found two books about Jane, which made me very happy.

P&P was our last stop in D.C., and then we headed home. I told you–whirlwind trip. Not the typical travelogue for me.

Here are links to where we stayed, ate, shopped, and visited:

D.C. image small

Yarn Along No. 25

What a weekend! I spent a lot of time with my needles and yarn!

Let me take you through it!

Pretty finished scarf! @emily_m_deardo First, remember this guy? Yes. I have finished the long scarf/cowl thing, and as I was knitting it, I thought it would make a great birthday present for one of my always-cold friends. Her birthday is in September, and these are her favorite colors, so big win there! I love how it turned out.

washcloth project colors @emily_m_deardo

Second–at the top you can see the finished “lilac” washcloth. On the right is the last skein of yarn for the Washcloth Housewarming Gift Project. This one is called blackberry.

Current Yarn Along project  @emily_m_deardo

The book part: I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, which I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, but once Modern Mrs. Darcy suggested it, I was glad to find it for $4 at Half Price Books. 🙂 So that’s what I’m currently reading.

So I have to cast on the last washcloth. But I did start one new project:

a scarf for the VA hospital in the most delicious color! @emily_m_deardo

People, this yarn. It’s called morning glory, and it has the slightest red tint to it. I love it. This is a scarf for a charity project. My Lay Dominican chapter collects hats and scarves to give to the patients at the local VA hospital, and this is my contribution. I’m knitting this up on 10 gauge Harmony Rainbow needles and it’s fantastic.

So, whew! That’s a lot for one yarn along! I’m loving knitting this scarf, and I’m so glad I have another skein of this color in the stash for another project. Possibly one for me. 😉

Back to Pemberley: The Great Jane Re-Read

Time for the great Jane Summer Re-Read! Join me! @emily_m_deardo


It’s almost Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which is the unofficial summer kick-off. Barbecues will fire up, pools will open, and school kids enter the homestretch of the school year, if they’re not already out.

In my house, Memorial Day means it’s time for the Great Jane Re-Read.

I first fell in love with Jane before I went to college. Like most women in the 90s, this is the image that led me to Jane:

Mr. Darcy, I presume. @emily_m_deardo

Yes. I wasn’t drawn to Jane because I was naturally precocious–I was drawn to Jane because of Colin Firth.

There is nothing wrong with that! 

During summer vacations, my best friends and I would spend a lot of time on hot summer days watching movies in one another’s houses. One day, Tiff whipped out her parents’ 6 volume VHS set of Pride and Prejudice. I’d been wanting to read the book, but I hadn’t–yet.

We spent an entire afternoon watching it. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I went to Barnes and Noble, got Jane, and preceded to read P&P in one big gulp. I used newly discovered Amazon to buy the rest of her books when I was in the hospital later that summer. I read them eagerly, voraciously, devotedly–I underlined passages and made notes in the margins. When I was in college, I chose English Lit as my specialization, and my senior thesis was on….yeah, that’s right….Jane. 🙂 Specifically, feminism in Mansfield Park, and no, that does not mean what you think it means. (In a nutshell, my argument was that we should all be nicer to Fanny Price, and that Jane liked that character, and we should too! I’m Team Fanny! And Hailey basically writes my thesis in blog format in that post. Sort of. Maybe one day I’ll share the thesis with y’all.)

So, every summer, I go back to Jane, starting Memorial Day weekend. This year I’ve started early. I’ve already re-read Sense and Sensibility (Hardcover Classics), and I’m reading  The Annotated Northanger Abbey right now, so I’m also doing this out of order. 🙂 (The order is Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.) I got a new copy of NA for my birthday, so I wanted to read that after S&S. (Yes, I do have multiple copies of Jane, including the gorgeous Penguin ones that are illustrated here. Seriously, they’re divine)

Why do I re-read her every summer? For a lot of reasons. I get more familiar with the books; they seep more deeply into me. And there’s things I notice every time that hit me differently. I’m not the same person I was the last time I read these books. I find myself liking or disliking certain characters more. For example, I really disliked Emma the first few times I read her book. Now, she’s getting better (but is she “handsome enough to tempt me?”).

I intend, as I re-read these over the summer, to write about each book after I finish it–a bit of Jane notes, if you will. And of course I’ll direct you to my Jane series that I did last year. 

Will you join me in the re-read? Which Jane protagonist is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?


The Annual Summer Jane Austen Re-Read! Join me @emily_m_deardo

Seven Quick Takes No. 77

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo


Next week there won’t be a 7QT, since I’ll be in D.C. and attending ordinations that day, so I won’t have time to write! I’ll be churching. 🙂 But I am so excited to be heading to D.C. since I haven’t been in so long, and I’ll be with some great friends. Plus, our hotel offers free homemade cookies–hot–for all visitors.

Really? Can I just live there forever?


Let’s talk about some season finales of TV, shall we?

I love The Middle. Sue Heck is an awful lot like me, from her love of Disney World Planning to her academic endeavors. Last night’s season finale really struck a chord with me.

Sue has been trying, all year, to have the Best Year Ever. It’s her Senior year of high school (AKA, The Year of Sue), and she tries to win one of the class superlatives (best smile, etc.), get accepted to a great college, have the most school spirit, and generally be all around awesome.

But leading up to graduation, everything goes wrong. She loses her yearbook–and her name is misspelled under her photo She’s not eligible for any honor cords because  her activities “don’t count”. She misses getting the perfect attendance award because she snuck of campus to eat lunch. Her graduation motorboard is way too big. She doesn’t even want to go to graduation now, because she feels like nothing she did mattered. She has left no legacy. She feels like a loser.

But her mom convinces her to go to the ceremony. At the ceremony, her yearbook is returned–full of notes from people who did notice her, and appreciated her, even if she didn’t get any honor cords or win any Senior Superlatives. She sees the impact she had on the members of her class, and she had no idea they even felt that way.

I feel like Sue sometimes, like everything I do is just passing and I won’t have any lasting legacy anywhere. But The Middle reminds us that people do notice those little things, even if they don’t write about it in our yearbooks.


Another TV finale wasn’t quite so satisfying, and that’s Bates Motel.

Now, I love Bates Motel on a lot of levels, as I’ve previously discussed. But this year it started going off the rails, relative to actual CF/transplant things, and this makes me Displeased.

Emma’s been on the lung transplant list the entire time the show has been on the air, so three years. She hasn’t moved up the list in all that time–her condition has been pretty stable. But this season she started to deteriorate a bit.

Now, the way lungs are allocated is something called an LAS score. Basically, it takes into account how sick you are. The sicker you are, the higher up you are on the list. Emma, actually, probably isn’t sick enough to be first in line on the list. Yes, she’s on oxygen, but her condition is pretty stable.

However, on the show, her dad tells Dylan (Norman’s brother) that the reason Emma hasn’t gotten her transplant is because they don’t have $20,000, which they apparently need to bribe someone to move her up the list.

Um, no. No no no no five thousand nos.

The only way you move up the list is by getting sicker. When I was called for my transplant, I was the top person on the AB+ blood type list, because I was the sickest person that was also the best match for the lungs I received. It’s sort of a complicated process. Organs have to match blood type, tissue type, body size, etc. Emma could only move up by getting sicker, or by people passing on the chance to have the operation, or being removed from the list.

So anyway, in the season finale, Emma gets her call (this is after Dylan has come up with the money and given  it to Emma’s Dad). Emma then proceeds to have a crying jag/meltdown in front of Dylan. Now, I know this makes good TV because it’s cathartic and all that, but you have to talk to social workers and therapists about this stuff before you can get listed. You have to be totally on board. You can’t be sort of wishy-washy. Now, yes, I understand that Emma’s a little freaked, but by the time you get the call, you are about to die, normally. Dying on the operating table doesn’t really phase you, because you are going to die without the surgery very soon.

So anyway, this is all so wrong, people. So, so, wrong.

However, she is right about lungs being tricky, in the transplant world. They are. Lucky us.


A few reading notes:

The Royal We: Totally based on Prince William and Kate Middleton (right down to Kate’s fashion choices and wedding dress), only the girl is an American, this story of the future King of England meeting his fiance at a British University is well-told and charmingly written. Nicholas and Rebecca meet cute, break up, and finally get engaged–but will they make it to the altar? Nicholas’s brother, Freddie, is hysterical, but Rebecca’s twin is sort of annoying. But this would definitely make a great beach read. If you’re a fan of the British Royal Family, then give this one a whirl.

Made In the U.S.A.: I found this on the remained table at B&N, read the first chapter, and was drawn in to the story of Lutie and her brother, Fate, who are left alone after their stepmother dies of a heart attack in the local North Dakota Wal-Mart. Intent on escaping Child Protective Services, Lutie and Fate drive to Las Vegas, the last known address of their ne’er-do-well alcoholic father, sure that if they find him, he will take them in. But things definitely do not work out like the pair plans, and they’re finally rescued by Juan, a Mexican immigrant who takes the children to his family in Oklahoma.

The book had a pretty dark first half–Lutie does a lot of things to survive and to heal some serious wounds in herself–but the final pages give the characters chances for redemption.  I don’t generally mind dark books, and I’d probably read this again, but reading it the first time had me going “are these kids going to be OK? Because they better be, or I’m going to be really irritated.

The Happiness Project: This is one of my must-reads, and I’m reading it again. It’s a great kick in the pants for self-motivation to Do Better and Achieve Goals.


And since we have book notes, let’s have some movie notes:

Still Alice: The movie that won Julianne Moore her elusive Oscar is much better than I thought it would be. The book is good, but the movie is better–this falls into a small category of books and movies where this is true, for me (some of the others are The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).  Moore plays Alice, a linguistic professor at Columbia who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Moore’s performance is realistic and sympathetic, but the other best part of the movie is Kristin Stewart’s role as Lydia, Moore’s “black sheep” daughter, who comes home to take care of her mother while her father (Alec Baldwin) moves to Minnesota to run a study at the Mayo Clinic. Stewart and Moore could be mother and daughter in real life, and they play beautifully off one another here. I loved how their relationship evolved throughout the movie.

Panic Room: Yes, another Kristin Stewart movie! This time she plays Jodi Foster’s daughter in a thriller that places both of them at the mercy of three robbers. This is one of Stewart’s earliest film roles, and she and Foster are a believable mother daughter pair, complete with the sass and eye rolls. It’s a tidy thriller that ends somewhat predictably, but it’s a good movie to watch if you’re not up to following a complicated plot.


CCD winds up this weekend. I’ll miss this class, which was much smaller than my previous class of 35 kids. But each year’s class has its own plusses and minuses, and this has been a pretty good group. I’m curious to see how many we have next year, since that affects the “arts and crafts” aspect of the curriculum. With a group of 35, you really can’t do too many art projects, but with 20, you can.


Can you believe we’re halfway through May already? I can’t. I swear things move faster as we get older.

Dirt Under My Nails: My First Container Garden

garden large

I’ve always been jealous of great gardens. My grandma always had perfect flowers and a tomato plant in her backyard; one of my favorite things to do with my grandpa was pick tomatoes from the vines and bring them to my grandma for use in summer dinners. There were always a few tomatoes on her kitchen windowsill, and her flowers were perfectly planted in the brick planters that bordered their front porch. My grandpa, a fierce gardener, also planted snapdragons around the lamppost in the front yard.

But as much as I loved this garden, I never really got to have my own. My house growing up had a really shady back yard, and the front yard faced north, which limited the amount of sunshine the plants received. My parents do put in annuals, like petunias and marigolds, every year, but since I rent, I can’t really put them in the landscaping. (The one time I tried this, they were uprooted and plowed over and covered with mulch. Fail.)

Now, though, I’m going to try my hand at a small container garden. This year, I’m focusing on herbs, and only herbs, but if they go well, I might branch out into flowers next year. In fact, I already have plans for some tulips in the front yard (tulips, based on what I’ve seen in other yards here, do well with the landscape abuse!)

So this is what I have so far:

  • A planter, left behind by the last tenant, that sits on my back porch and gets plenty of sunshine (it faces west);
  • Two packs of seeds–basil and cilantro, both of which I use a lot in recipes.

What I need to get:

  • Appropriate potting soil

Fortunately it’s not time to plant here in Ohio yet. That’s not until nearer the end of the month. So I need to figure out what type of potting soil to get, and how much of it, and then I can plant my seeds around memorial day…and hope for the best!

Do you keep a garden? What are your best gardening tips? Leave them in the comments!

trying my hand at container gardening! @emily_m_deardo

Seven Quick Takes No. 76

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo


BONJOUR, FRIDAY!!!!!! I’m so happy to see you!


I’m going to D.C.! I haven’t been to the capital in ages and I’m so excited to be going with my friends Mary and Katie for Dominican ordinations. The last road trip the three of us took, it was to Nashville to visit some Dominican sisters. We had a blast. I don’t know if D.C. is ready for us!


The CCD year is rapidly coming to a close. We only have two more classes. Last year’s class just received their first communion, and I’m so happy for them! I hope they remember everything we’ve taught them about it. 😉 Next year’s CCD will be here before we know it, though, and then it’s a new group of kids to teach about the sacraments and the trinity.


Speaking of summer breaks: it’s summer here. Already! It’s supposed to be 90 tomorrow! Sadly, the pool doesn’t open until next week, when it’s going to be much more seasonal. Oh well. When the pool is open, it’s time for me to do my happy dance. Not just because pool=summer, but because I love swimming and it’s better than gym workouts!


Although I have been very faithful to those gym workouts–going to the gym today, in fact. My schedule right now is two yoga practices a week, and three gym days. Yes, there are two rest days in there. I also need to get a strength program back on line, because I’ve been slacking here.


I made huge progress this week on one of my novels, so I’m excited about that! It was the first one I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and I was in a hurry to get it done, so I left out a few key scenes, but now I’m going back and putting them in, an they’re fitting really well. I had to slash parts that were just way too crazy, but in general, I’m pleased with the shape of the manuscript.


Do any of you garden? Do you want to share gardening tips with me? I’m writing about this more next week, but I’m about to start my first container garden (with just two things–let’s not get crazy) and I want to make sure they don’t die. 🙂

Yarn Along No. 24

So we’re back!

Yarn Along 24--what I'm reading and knitting @emily_m_deardo

So this is dishcloth number 3, and I’m in love with this color. It’s called “lilac”, but it seems much deeper than regular lilacs, right? Anyway, it’s gorgeous and it’s so easy to work with.

I’ve been wanting to read Trilby for awhile but I never found a copy–thankfully Half Price Books provided! So I’m hoping it’s as good as I want it to be.

Catching Curveballs: How to Live to An Abnormal Life

When life throws you curveballs--how to live and abnormal life @emily_m_deardo

“Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”

We’ve all heard that one, right? While it may be catchy, and even comforting, it’s not really helpful when your life goes from normal to really abnormal, especially if it happens without warning. A phone call, a doctor’s appointment–these things take only seconds to rearrange our lives.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of dear people’s lives go off kilter in the medical sense of “off kilter”. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on living a life of abnormality.


life throwing you curveballs? Here's how to deal with it @emily_m_deardo

“Normal? What does anyone in this family know about normal?”

1. You have to embrace the abnormality as the new normal. This is the most important and perhaps the hardest thing. No, most people’s lives do not involve random Sunday morning runs to the ER, or IV malfunctions at two a.m. But guess what. Yours does (or whatever your circumstances dictate).The sooner this becomes “no big deal” to you and your family, the better. This is especially important if you have kids. The kids will react much better if you are calm and treat what is happening like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Now, sometimes, this isn’t possible. But regular hospitalizations, tests, ER visits, and the like are much less scary if they feel routine.


2.Remain calm (at least in front of medical personnel) when you hear that your plans are about to radically change. (That doesn’t mean you can’t get upset about it. I’ve had my share of crying jags in empty exam rooms about hospitalizations I didn’t want.) However, if you’re going to get upset, do it fast, ugly-cry, and then move on.

Think about what you need to do immediately. What do you or your child need right now–medications? A favorite toy? Does your cell phone need charged? Are there people that you have to meet with later today, and now that’s going to be impossible? Write a list, call people–whatever you particularly need to do right away, do it.

(I tend to think the following: I need my CI battery and charger. I need my glasses, contact case, and solution. My meds are mostly in the hospital formulary, but some of them aren’t, so I need the bag of meds brought in so I can give the nurses what I need to take and they can put it in my med drawer. I will need the charger for my phone and iPad, which is plugged into my computer, and I’ll need the wall charger, which is in the other bag. Etc.)

When I first heard about transplant being an option for me, I had to admit, I was FREAKED. I had no idea this was actually something that I had to think about now. Thinking about the immediate things I needed to do with this information was much less scary than letting my imagination run wild.


3. Be upfront with important people in your life. When I worked, I told my bosses, this is my medical situation. There are times when I may be out of the office for long stretches. I cannot control when this happens. I will update you with information when I have it. This means that there have been calls from ERs to my bosses. If you’re a parent who has a child who’s sick, and you will be missing a lot of work, I suggest you talk to your bosses and get really familiar with your leave options.


4. Talk to Patient Accounts at the hospital. Really talk to them. They are your friends! Use the resources that are available to you. If there’s a social worker handy, it can’t hurt to talk to said person and see what’s there for you and your family to use.


5. For parents: treat your children as normally as possible. I really, really, REALLY cannot stress this enough. Do not give them the mindset that because they have health problems, they are “super special” and don’t have to do homework or are entitled to things that other kids don’t get. They may need accommodation. That’s one thing. And they may get more toys, etc. because of their hospitalizations. OK. But telling them they don’t need to do homework or whatever because they’re “in the hospital” or “sick” or whatever is not helpful and not good for their development.

I always had to do homework. When an IV bled out at 2 am the night before my Algebra II final, I didn’t get to skip the final. I took it later that same day. If I’d have been admitted to the hospital, I’d have taken the final when I could, or we would’ve made arrangements. I never got out of schoolwork.


5. Be prepared, but don’t be Eeyore: Obviously, expecting that things can happen, and being prepared for them, is a mental help. But don’t be overly freaking out. Don’t think that everything is catastrophe, or feel like you cannot plan anything because who knows what is going to happen. There will be seasons of life where things need to be readjusted–holiday plans, vacations, etc. But there are also times when everything’s fine.  You have to ride it like you’re surfing. Do not let worries control your life, especially if you’re the parent. Your kids can sense this. Really. And it just makes them tense up and freak out because the parents are worrying about me so there must be something to worry about. For example: I knew that CF was fatal when I read about it in our World Book encyclopedia (ah, the 90s!). But my parents weren’t going around wailing and gnashing their teeth about my demise, so I figured, hey, I’ll think about this when I’m 30 or so.

If you’re a parent, try to do your freaking out when the kids aren’t around/awake. See point above. This doesn’t really go away because your kids get older. It’s hard to control yourself and console someone else.


6. As far as sharing on social media: let’s just say I was really glad I didn’t have Facebook in the years leading up to my transplant. There was no place–and there still is no place–for my parents to share photos of me in hospital rooms, in recovery, etc., because they do not have Facebook, or blogs.  If your child is old enough, talk to the child about sharing this private information on social media platforms. Some kids don’t care. Some kids, like me, care greatly. I did give dad permission to update my friends with regular emails when I had my transplant, but I would not have wanted him to attach any photos.

There are few things you can control, as a patient. You may not want these moments splashed all over Facebook or twitter. But talk to your family/your child about these things. Get everyone on the same page.


7. Do not worry about the things that MAY or MIGHT happen in five, ten, fifteen years. This is a waste of brain space and a huge source of stress. Think about what is currently happening. Focus on the immediate moment. What needs to get better? What are people trying to find out?


8. This probably should have been first, but: pray. Really. Get in touch with your pastor/priest/rabbi/whatever. I found it immensely comforting to talk to certain hospital chaplains that I really liked (Fr. Mark! More on him later!). God is in control, guys. He really, really is. Remind yourself of that frequently. Know that I still have to remind myself of this often. 🙂 I don’t think it ever stops, really, the need for Him to take care of all this. But if you don’t pray—start. It helps.


What do you do when life goes off the rails? How do you adjust? Do these suggestions help? Let me know in the comments.


curveballs small