Words of Wisdom

“From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us strive to love God above all, and fulfill His holy will.”

— St. Herman of Alaska

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Guest Post: Dating in your 40s

Stephanie is our guest blogger today, and brings with her excitement and experience. Most of The Orthogals’  writings come from the  twenty- and thirty-something crowd, but we know that the over-forty demographic needs to be represented as well. Stef does not identify as a “typical forty-something”, but admits that her share of dating disasters should count for something. When not keeping her friends in laughing fits with her stories and animated style, she enjoys the active cultural offerings of her Midwestern college town.

I have a very robust inner third-grader.  My “i3g” generally serves me well; it’s kind of like having an internal fun magnet.  It reminds me of the mystery of how my dad can make open parking spaces magically appear in front of him, and my mom has a sixth sense of when there’s a sale in the vicinity.

Maybe my dating life would be more successful if I put my i3g on the case.  I really think I was a lot smarter when I was about eight.  The younger version of myself wouldn’t put up with some of the things that I do now, things that we are taught as adults to accept.  For one, my i3g wouldn’t go out with someone “just to be nice,” even when not interested in the other person.  She also wouldn’t spend an excessive amount of time worrying about her appearance or trying to be cool.

And let’s talk about cooties.  Your i3g knows they’re real.  When the thought “that person has cooties” goes through your mind, it means that something is creepy–a boundary has been crossed and things are not right.  The adult world might tell you that you are jumping to conclusions and that you need to override that sentiment.  But your i3g knows that things are amiss–listen to her!

Dates:  Most of the stuff that’s considered part of the standard repertoire for dates is somewhere on a continuum between stressful and boring–certainly not anything fun that brings out the best in each of you.  Or maybe the fun activities *don’t* bring out the best in my date, in which case I’d like to know that, as it would be a whole lot more helpful in getting to know someone than some contrived, artificial situation.

Here’s a quick checklist for anyone wanting to take me out:  Does it involve roller skates, bubble wrap, ice cream, animals, or bluegrass music?  Count me in.  A big no:  overpriced pretentious food, excessive air conditioning, shopping, or anybody asking me, “And now what exactly is it that you do?” in a snotty tone of voice.  I’ll make sure I need to stay home and do laundry that night.

What about gifts?  You got me flowers to show me how you feel about me.  They died within the week.  Not really, I think, what you were trying to convey.  But you found me a heart-shaped rock when you were out hiking?  This tells me you were thinking about me even when I wasn’t there.  If you catch me a frog, we’re in business.  (Especially if it’s a talking frog.  No, not one that turns into Prince Charming.  I mean a real talking frog.  That would be pretty neat.)

We should address another adult concept–the dreaded Friendzone.  Kids aren’t really concerned about this.  “So you don’t wanna be my girlfriend?”  Pause.  “Ok, how ’bout we climb trees instead?”  And everything is all good again.

I think I’ll approach dating with my i3g at the helm.  At the very least, I’ll have fun and end up with some good stories.  And maybe I’ll find someone out there with his own i3g–and no cooties.

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If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology. But if you have just ended a relationship and would like to believe you are better off without love, read philosophy.

-Jonathan Haidt

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Priorities, Standards, and Lists

You know, there’s a difference between having high standards, knowing your core values, and being just plain picky.

It’s easy to make fun of lists, and some are patently ridiculous. But having a list can be a way to be upfront with yourself about what you value. I like Laura’s method of having 3 columns: needs, wants, and bonus.
That way you can say, “You know, I really cherish getting to talk art with loved ones, and it’d be amazing if he liked the post-impressionists too.” But you don’t have to say, “His idea of admiring art is noticing a new design on his soda can, that’s close enough” or “But this guy who’s almost perfect prefers Van Gogh’s Paris sunflowers to his Arles sunflowers, so clearly it’s not meant to be!”

You don’t want to be unreasonable or proud or snobby, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. What do you want? What do you need? Take a little time to think about it. Talk to married couples you admire. People-watch. What makes you grin, cringe, sigh?

What do you value? Do you need someone with strong manners, who always thanks store clerks and waitstaff and means it? Can you live with someone who isn’t a big reader, who gets his art and story and connection in another way? Do you have to have someone active, who spends his free time running on the trail / playing calvinball / lifting heavy objects for fun? Can you look past copious nose hair if he’s good with kids?

You’d hate to be settled-for, right? It’d be dreadful to know that your partner quietly thought less of you because you were different from what they’d hoped or expected. So don’t do that to someone else, don’t settle for them. If deep, insightful conversation is a big part of what you value in your friendships and something you want to be a big part of your life, then find a great conversationalist and don’t apologize for prioritizing it. If it has to be deep conversations about art, well, then it has to be about art.

Frankly, if you ARE being picky, then be picky.  It’s a sign of immaturity, and if your standards are truly so restrictive that nobody’ll fit into them, then perhaps you need time to grow up before you’re ready. (Cf. Mr. Ridiculous up above. He should not be dating. His list is a shiny red flag announcing that to the world. Thank heavens.) Go ahead and keep your list silly until you mature enough to re-evaluate.

We have to strive to balance realism and generosity towards others with a healthy regard for our own boundaries and needs. You’re allowed to need things, you’re allowed to want things, and you’re entitled to your boundaries. Anyone who says otherwise is not someone you want to date.

It’s good to have high standards for yourself too. If you end up with this Mr. Wonderful who knows which Van Gogh paintings are truly sublime (*cough* Starry Night Over the Rhone *cough*), you’ll want to offer him the best of yourself, right? So put in the effort and build the skills you value: communication, patience, kindness, competence, whatever.

He deserves someone who thinks he’s a prince. You deserve someone you think is a prince. So if you think he’s a frog, or you find his occasional croaks concerning, talk about it, but be prepared to let him go.

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Friday Linkage

6 Things Single People Are Tired of Hearing [Relevant]

What is love? [Aeon] (No one tell Fr. Andrew about this title)

Is human sexuality determined by evolution? [Aeon]

The Myth of the Alpha Male [Art of Manliness]. Another great Art of Manliness article that analyses what women actually find attractive traits in partners.

It’s Wedding Season: How to Make Sure Your Tears Look Like the Happy Kind [Reductress]

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Love of being loved

But sometimes a woman’s love of being loved gets the better of her conscience.

Hardy, Jude the Obscure

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It’s tempting to think that you can be modest enough to avoid sexual harassment.

It’s tempting to think that you can be street-smart enough to avoid being mugged.

It’s tempting to think that you can be financially savvy enough to never become poor.

It’s tempting to think that you can be health-conscious enough to avoid serious illness.

It’s tempting to think that you can be smart enough to avoid common pitfalls.

There are ways to be stupid, to invite trouble, to make things a lot worse for yourself. And there are often ways to deal with problems that objectively work better than others—changing your car’s oil will not help its flat tire, for instance, and if you’re compulsively buying tech toys when you can’t pay your mortgage, it’d be good to get some help with both the emotional and financial sides of money management. But there’s no way to be clever or even dedicated enough to guarantee your safety and freedom from hardship.

It’s sheer pride that says “X will never happen to me, because I know to _____.” And it’s false. Your choices have a big impact on your life and the world around you, to be sure. But you can’t opt out of living in a fallen world.

Often when someone we know is struggling, whether with depression or cancer or harassment, it’s temping to be all helpy and say things like, “Mind over matter! Have you tried coconut oil for that?” And maybe you just submitted a clinical trial for peer review on the benefits of coconut oil in helping people overcome post-breakup heartaches, and you’re just giving your friend an inside scoop. But oftentimes your friend is already doing the best they can, and coconut oil will not magically fix their very real problems. (See also dead fish.) And you can eat a tablespoon of coconut oil every day, and while it may do very nice things for your digestion and immune system, it still won’t protect you from ever having your heart broken.

To believe we can be ____ enough is also to believe that our enoughness can somehow insulate us from life’s brutality, that we can somehow be enough on our own. It’s also, quietly, to believe that others weren’t enough, that it’s somehow their fault or someone’s fault that they were mugged or lost their house. We make excuses where we can (“Oh no, Sally only got Alzheimer’s because EvilCorp dumped chemicals in the water table!”), but often there’s an invisible coating of superiority on our words. Sure, Sally’s Alzheimer’s is a very sad thing and EvilCorp should be stopped, but we’re eating kale and playing brain games for fifteen minutes every day and living far from the EvilCorp dumping grounds, so thank God we’ll never be in her shoes.

Have you heard of the Publican and the Pharisee? The Pharisee thought he was enough.

We can’t be enough, but that’s okay. We don’t have to be enough. God is enough. God’s love for us is enough. And whether we’re _____ enough or not, we are loved. In the end, that’s what matters most.

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To Come First for Someone [Eve Tushnet]
An honest look at one aspect of the yearning for intimacy.

The Theft of My Safety [JPrincess]

Adios, Dov Charney and George Will: Two famously-sexist men get the boot on the same day [Salon]

How to Tell if You’re in a Jane Austen Novel [The Toast]
My favorite: “A woman who hates you is playing the pianoforte.”

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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Words of Wisdom

The prayer of most people is “Lord, give me want I want.” The prayer of the believer is “Lord, teach me your ways”. If this is your sincere prayer, then I would say going to confession and communion will be the blessing they are meant to be.

- Rev. Know-it-all

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Icons for Guatemala Update

Thank you so much.

The short version of the update on the icon drive for the Guatemalan churches is you are awesome human beings. 

With everyone’s generous support, the youth at Saints Constantine and Elena have filled three boxes with icons large and small, and they are shipping the collection this week. For the time being, they are finished collecting icons.

However, if you’d like to send a single package, set up an icon drive at your parish, or contribute financially to the ongoing endeavor, please contact Fr. David Rucker at frdavid@ocmc.org. There is still a great need for icons of Christ and the Theotokos in particular.

And, as always, please keep our brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala in your prayers.

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