Sunday, April 29, 2012
Hey all - Blogger.com has made some adjustments and I can't seem to get paragraphs to show up in my posts! If you have discovered the trick, please let me know. In the meantime, you can read my posts on www.amybonaccorso.com. The formatting is better there!
The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After. I endorsed Elizabeth Kantor’s latest book and I wish I had read it when I was younger; it would have saved me some broken hearts! Kantor offers guidance for the modern single woman through Jane Austen’s works. It is clever and enjoyable. While we might think of Austen’s world as irrelevant to what we now face, Kantor demonstrates that Austen’s approach was, in fact, modern in many respects. Austen’s stories show women managing their own relationships, for instance. She used literary devices to get parents out of the way! This book helps us weigh the impact of Romantic love in our lives, or in other words, that crazy kind of love that movies and novels rely on for generating high-octane and combustible love stories. It’s the type of love at first sight that can blind us from rational considerations. Kantor, through Austen’s examples, shows women how to pace relationships in a sophisticated and empowered way so that crazy love doesn’t de-rail their happiness. A lot of Christian women have heard the phrase, “Guard your heart.” Or even better, “Find a guy who will guard your heart.” This book teaches women exactly how to guard their hearts. A lot of it is about pacing the speed that you emotionally attach to a guy. The book introduces the concept of admiration vs. attachment. A guy may admire you greatly and appreciate your time together, but not be in love and ready to choose you above all other women, i.e. attach. This is a very important point worth studying because women can start to attach to a man when he is merely in admiration-mode. This is risky and can lead to major disappointment. How do we know what pace to go by? Through the man’s words and behavior. It’s a dance. We should strive not to shift into attachment when he has not given us any reason to think he’s on that path. And let’s face it – guys can be annoying and inconsistent. Therefore, it can take a lot of analysis to determine what his intentions are early in a relationship. He may not even know what he wants yet, which is why it’s important to stay in the present moment and watch him closely. It’s worth the effort and can save us from humiliation. What is fabulous about this book is that it doesn’t propose that women become false or numb to emotion. Our sensitivity is one of our greatest strengths, and relationships are important enough to manage well. In fact, this book encourages us to become relationship experts again. While the context is mainly focused on finding a mate, Kantor points out that in the past, people were forced to develop stronger relationship skills early on. Nowadays, we might begin dating and find ourselves starting largely from scratch when it comes to relationships skills. While our newfound independence has many perks, we could also benefit from flexing our relationship muscles more often in our lives. What’s neat about this is that we don’t have to wait for a guy to come along to get relational. We can practice being a good friend every day.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
This January 2009 article below is one of my greatest hits. It inspired a chapter in my book and I think it changed a lot of conversations about Catholic dating. If you want to meet the priest who inspired some of it, RSVP to my live web chat on Monday, April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. EST. It is video-based – so have your web cam ready and the latest version of Flash. Register here: http://amybonaccorso.eventbrite.com/.
A young lady who read one of my articles asked me to further explain my statement that finding a good spouse can mean “growing outside of yourself.” What does that mean? I’ll attempt to unpack that statement here.
Ideally, Catholic women want to find a Catholic man with good character, of course. It doesn't always fall into place like a puzzle though...sometimes there is work and compromise involved. This reality is not always discussed in the Catholic literature, but real life is oftentimes messier than idealized dating guidelines! Keep in mind that the majority of the “courtship” books sold to Catholic singles at events are written by people who have never been married or by clergy. I believe these intellects are genuinely trying to be helpful, but much of the advice is simply too idealistic to be applied to real life 100% of the time.
A snapshot of real life looks like this: I used to help with RCIA classes, and many people become Catholic because they are inspired by a girlfriend or boyfriend. Just because one person was not Catholic didn't mean that Jesus wasn't there. I became Catholic because a former boyfriend introduced me to the faith in a positive manner. My husband became more interested in the faith, largely because of his relationship with me. Jesus acts through people who love Him and none of us is a finished piece of work.
Further, stats say there are MORE practicing Catholic women than men. Some Catholic women will marry men who are powerhouses of faith when they meet them, others won't. Still, others will choose to remain single and commiserate with their friends over their single status forever. There is a choice to be made...and sometimes that involves choosing to be realistic after a certain age and settling on some things to marry, OR choosing to be a "secular sister" of sorts and living independently. Most women who email me about this topic don’t feel called to religious life or celibacy. They feel called to marriage and are following the advice they get, but something isn’t working. They can’t find a lasting connection with someone who is a “suitable spouse.”
Sometimes, our own thought patterns can block us from finding a suitable spouse. Have you considered that maybe God is putting someone who is suitable in your path…but you are too rigid in your thinking to see him? “Growing outside of yourself” can be the missing link.
When things aren't perfect in a relationship (they typically are not)...that's when people "grow outside of themselves." There are usually gaps between ourselves and others that need to be bridged to form a long term relationship that works. For instance, even though I identified myself as a "conservative" or "orthodox Catholic" when I was single and going to faith-based events, I usually found that there were one of two things that I disagreed on with other Catholics who identified themselves the same exact way. People are just that way... they differ.
A lot of the people I know who are unhappily single get overly bent out of shape when they realize that someone close to them or a prospective partner doesn't agree with everything they think up. Surprise! That's just life...and if someone really wants to get married and hasn’t been in luck, it's best to find ways of constructively dealing with that "gap" that exists with everyone. People who can't tolerate any differences can remain alone, and nit-pick everyone and everything. Of course, the caveat to compromise is always that everyone has a limit and it’s wise to know what it is.
The benefit to reaching outside yourself is that it makes for a wiser, more well-rounded, compassionate individual. It’s a strong and loving way to live rather than fearful. When you put yourself in someone else's shoes, try to understand another perspective on the world, another person's emotions....it just makes you a better person. It's worth it to learn to peacefully co-exist with people who have minor differences of opinion.
Consequently, people in happy partnerships tend to have stronger immune systems! Neither me or my husband have been sick since we got married in June and I used to regularly get sick during the cold months!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I’m hosting a live web chat on Monday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m. EST about my book with special guest, Fr. Elias Carr, Can. Reg. We’re going to focus on Chapter 7, “Growing Outside Yourself.” This chapter has fueled much thought and online discussion! In fact, an early article I wrote with the same title was so popular on Catholicmatch.com that it led me to write the chapter in the book. And, I have found coaching to be an excellent way to explore these issues on an individual level.
What happens if you can’t find a guy at Catholic events or dating websites? What if the guy who treats you the best is not a practicing Catholic? Could God be asking you to open your heart and grow beyond your preconceived notions?
Fr. Elias Carr, who influenced this chapter, will make a special appearance to elaborate on his quote on page 73, “Just find a good guy!” What made him say that and what qualifies as a “good guy” these days anyway?
I’ll also ask Kate Wicker, Catholic author of Weightless, for some words of wisdom. She is married to a non-Catholic man.
This is a unique opportunity that will allow for one-on-one conversation and questions and answers with folks from around the country. Just be sure you have a web camera and the latest version of Flash installed on your computer. This is going to be a really fun video chat experience!
Please RSVP here because space is limited!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
This Easter marks my 12-year anniversary as a Catholic. Pretty cool. The Easter lilies bring back memories for me.
My husband asked me about what it was like to enter the Church. What were the days leading up to the baptism, confirmation, and first communion extravaganza like?
Well, to tell you the truth, it was rough. I felt overwhelmed with doubts. I could have easily chickened out. I heard that it wasn’t uncommon for people to get besieged with doubts before their big entrance into the Church – it’s the Devil’s last stand. I persevered and am glad I did. The whole experience felt like a re-birth for me, especially because it was just three days after my birthday if I remember it right. Jesus tends to give me special gifts like that.
My upbringing was unusual. I was raised in the New Age/metaphysical movement. In my family, we have mystical explorers and wellness enthusiasts. Before hospitals were allowing women to pursue natural childbirth, my grandma and mother did their best to fight off the meds and unnatural procedures. My mom was doing acupressure before it and acupuncture became so mainstream. My great aunt went to a Christian Science practitioner for laying of hands before reiki hit the scene and before Louise Hay published her natural healing books. And, we knew astrologers and psychic mediums before they were getting TV shows on cable. We were weird, but I was free to explore and develop my intuition!
My personal relationship with Christ began in college. I first converted to Protestant evangelical Christianity. Thank God it happened that way. For all of the splendor that we have in the Catholic Church, it can never replace the joy of feeling Jesus wink at you through some special coincidence.
I’ve been through many phases over these 12 years. I have discerned religious life at a Carmelite convent co-founded by Fr. Walter Ciszek. I have been a Secular Carmelite. I have been a member of Opus Dei. I have dabbled with theology school. I’ve written an award-winning book for single Catholic women. And now, I’m working towards spiritual integration.
I used to think my upbringing was something to be ashamed of and I guarded it for years. Now, I realize I was blessed. Our Church is a mystical place. Christ was discovered by the Magi, who are usually described as “wise men” and “astrologers.” Christ was a healer and miracle worker. These things are easy for me to embrace without question. I don’t believe that mystical things have stopped occurring, but it is sometimes the case that people feel the need to go outside of the Church to find truly faith-filled, mystical experiences because so many of us have become too rationalistic.
So, at 12 years, those are my thoughts!
Friday, April 6, 2012
I've told some people that publishing my last post felt like pulling a pin out of a verbal grenade and throwing it at an unsuspecting readership. When it was published on Catholic Lane, it elicited such vitriolic responses that the editor decided to erase the comments and disable the comment field. I support her decision - the comments fell into personal attacks and were a poor witness.
On my website, people have been more respectful, but not every comment has been "approve-able." I've also received a lot of personal messages. While some expressed compassion, I wish more readers truly understood my piece and absorbed it as I had hoped.
What does this say? Well, I think it proves my point. Some Catholic laypeople who are actively engaged in their faith have a mental and emotional block on the subject of the Pill being used as medicine. It's a blindspot. They don't understand Church teaching in situations like this, but it does not stop them from poorly pontificating, personally attacking people, or simply walking all over conversational landmines. They find it difficult to put themselves in someone else's shoes or to be a real friend to anyone in a health crisis.
To me, it also says that many Catholic PCOSers have been silent little mice about this issue for so long that we've contributed to the problem. I wonder - had I written about this subject years ago, could I have helped pierce the wall of ignorance sooner? Maybe I could have been more courageous and honest in the past, and touched more people in the process. But then I think that I was already suffering, and that being the case, I really would not have deserved the crap that some other Catholics would have most assuredly thrown at me. There are times when it is more important to take care of yourself than to be the hero who goes out to help others or start a new social cause. This is clearly one of those health issues where a Catholic woman cannot always rely on her neighbors for support. She has to nurture herself and carefully choose her confidantes. Even so, maybe I could have adopted a pen name and pursued this topic earlier in an anonymous, buffered way.
In case it wasn't clear from the get go, or if you have not read my replies to comments, I no longer need the Pill for medical reasons. However, I needed it for about a decade. There was no other technology available to me when I needed it for this issue....period. I started doing acupuncture ages ago when some of my Catholic friends thought it was a sin. I did my research, I made my phone calls, I had good health insurance and made the rounds.
Some proponents of a new technology called NaPro say that it can resolve issues from severe PCOS and that it would have worked for me. I can't tell you for sure how well it works because I have not personally experimented with it. What I do know is that several years ago, it was not available in my area or recommended by Catholic GYNs, so the Pill was my only option.