OMG[osh], What did she say?!

The Bright Maidens are back and this time we’re talking about … SEX. We discuss sex, virginity, recycled virginity, women, the value of sexuality the value of being a child of God and a brother and sister in Christ, and TOB in terms of respecting life and pro-life issues.

I haven’t listened to this week’s Among Women podcast all the way through yet, so I’m a little nervous about what Pat Gohn edited in and out. Our conversation for Part 2 was about an hour long, but it’s much shorter in the podcast version.

I’m more than a little nervous.

UPDATE: “It’s really hard out there. It’s really hard. To be a virgin in the 21st century takes heroic courage. It takes the grace of a saint to live the life that we’re talking about here.” –Pat Gohn

Let me know what you think!! LISTEN HERE. Our part of the interview is about one-third of the way through the podcast.

Bright Maidens on Among Women, Part 1



Friends, the Bright Maidens have an exciting announcement! The lovely Pat Gohn of Among Women kindly invited the three Bright Maidens (Julie, Trista, and Elizabeth) to sit down with her for the podcast!

As you may know, St. Hildegard of Bingen is the Bright Maidens patron saint, so Pat Gohn shares a great deal of wonderful insight on this powerful saint!

We had so much to discuss that we will be in TWO (count ’em: one, two) podcasts. We get into girl talk, a few points that we believe affect young Catholic women today, and a few… surprises. Check it out! Here is the first installment.

Combining Gilbert and Wentworth

*1*
Yes, I’m cheating by doing this in Quick Takes form… a week after the topic was published.
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This topic was meant to be a light one, just in time for Valentine’s Day, because no matter your vocation or marital status, there have been and always will be literary men in your life. As Liesl explained in her literary crush piece, “Excuse me while I swoon:” 

I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.

We are who God created us to be when He first knew us, before He formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are His children, at our core, no matter what additional outer layers we allow others or the world to attach to us.

*2*
When you KNEW you could fly

My college art show focused on a related phenomenon: the concept of memory and how your life changes and experiences change your perspective on memories.

For instance, Anne of Green Gables was one of my first chapter books. Therefore, my perspective as a 5 or 6-year-old reading about Anne’s contentious relationship with Gilbert Blythe was simplified. I might have picked up on their undertones, but I certainly didn’t analyze it and try to apply my results to my own life like I did as a teen.

My perspective as a happy, confident, and in-Love 24-year-old reading this classic is less analytical and involves far more guffaws at some of my previously similar behaviors. Oh Anne, you’re almost as clueless as I was a few years ago!

I can only imagine that I will revisit my 24-year-old perspective as an older woman and share a few more guffaws with and at myself. It’s a cycle, folks, so embrace it!

*3*

Say a prayer that everyone may shed the extra layers

This whole concept rests on the notion that we are who God created us to be at our core. My favorite quick quote is JP2’s “Family, become what you are.” As Catholic Christians, we believe God created our souls and and gave them a home in our bodies.

Our souls should come first in the health pecking order, but many times we feed our body and our pleasures first.

Throughout our lives, we pack on outer layers of junk. I know I formed some weird habits during my tween to teen years. We all add habits and mannerisms to ourselves in order to fit in or do what we think will be best for us. Unfortunately, this is often only “best” for us in our pleasure-seeking short term.

Praise God, we’re still US at our core. Through discernment, prayer, the will of God, and sometimes an Ah-Ha moment, we can shed these outer layers and reveal who we were created to be.

*4*

This inner person, the core, is the one with whom others fall in Love! This is who Gilbert noticed about Anne, not her red hair or temper. I believe he fell for the passion that motivated the temper.

Captain Wentworth tried his best to forget about his Anne, the one who broke his heart. He thought he healed from the romance bruise, but as soon as he saw her again, seven years later, and noticed her resolve, clear-headedness, and strength, he shed the blinders.

JulieLiesl, and Sarah mentioned these fine fellows, and rightly so. I used to think that I Loved Gilbert because he was just a nice, intelligent country boy who is part of an example of an iconic Love story. I once thought I swooned over Capt. Wentworth because he secretly pined over Anne and then wrote a beautiful letter to make his affection known.

It’s both more complex and more simple than that: they Loved their Annes to their core and recognized the lovable qualities buried deep in them. Once more, swoon with me. This is why they are so swoon-worthy. Gilbert embraced Anne’s Anne-ness from the beginning and Capt. Wentworth couldn’t fall out of Love with his Anne, even after years and distance.

These are the men we want, ladies. Go find them.

Hold your tongues

PDA in the Digital Age
by Julie at The Corner with a View
Trista at Not a Minx, a Moron, or a Parasite will be sitting out this week.
“Hold your tongues” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

We’ve all clicked through more Facebook photo albums than we care to admit.

Perhaps you’re more disciplined than I am, but I remember when Facebook first allowed Photo Albums back in the fall of 2005 and I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning, clicking through random photos. What a stalker I “was.”

Even today, though the nuance of Facebook and photo albums has worn thin, I find myself perusing a few photo albums of people I barely know. Call me creepy, but I say Facebook has opened a whole new scope for amateur sociology and I eat it up. The colors, the creative Halloween costumes, the photos of places I wish I could go, happy wedding and baby photos of those I haven’t seen in years. I just can’t get enough of the pictures!

One sure way to get me to click away, especially when I was lovesick and single, was when a Facebook friend posts a MySpace-style photo of a smoochfest from an arm’s length away. Yup, a split-second look at two (usually young and freshly dating) folks exchanging a kiss just seems out of place in my admittedly liberal dose of photo perusing.

Many couples post pictures of kiss exchanges between them and their new spouses in their wedding photos and these are quite touching. They seem like moments of ecstasy, captured by someone invited or hired to document the day.

I’m not writing to condemn others for the random kissing photo in our digitized world. Some are simply more comfortable with flaunting their physical love for their significant other than I am.

The Facebook generation has fewer inhibitions to their privacy and the camp seems to be split: is Facebook PDA better, worse, or the same as in-person PDA? Perhaps we shouldn’t be looking at photos of our friends if we’re not prepared to see their tongues. Or perhaps we should think about why we’re posting a play-by-play of our tonsil hockey on Facebook.

Most people posting these photos are probably not boiling down their entire relationship to one kissy photo, but that’s one of the impressions it gives: This is how we love each other, isn’t it cute? I would suggest they consider the potential pain of “detaging” or deleting those photos if the relationship were to end, knowing that they can neither “detag” nor delete the image from onlookers’ eyes and minds.

Just because you’re on the Internet and you cannot physically see other people does not mean the rest of the world ceases to exist. We’re all humans out here and those who tend to interact with more people through the Interwebs would do well to remember that.

Revealing

Sexy vs. Desirable
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I own a dozen cardigans.

My fashion sense has remained unrefined throughout my life, but it has wiggled in and out of levels of modesty.

Let’s face it, my mother dressed me for the first ten years. In fifth grade, I struck out for the sake of independence and wore a lot of vests. In high school, I wore a uniform during the day and a swimsuit in the afternoon at practice.

At the beginning of college, I wore a lot of t-shirts and exercise bottoms to class and to the movies with my sober friends. After I began partying, on “going out nights,” I wore more revealing, tighter clothing.

“Don’t show them everything you’ve got. Leave some for the imagination,” my late grandmother would preach to her granddaughters.

There’s some irony here. No, my belly button isn’t pierced.

When my sisters, cousins, or I wore a shirt cut too low, my 5’2″ grandmother would pace over to us, poke her finger down any cleavage, and chirp, “Woooop!” If this happens, she said, it was time to rethink the clothing choice.

My spunky, slightly inappropriate grandmother wanted others to see her granddaughters for who they are first, not for their packaging.

My woooop-worthy wardrobe progressed like this until I got tired of partying, stopped going out often, and started wearing “adult” clothing to class.

To me, this meant unnecessary layers of drooping fabric, no matter how unflattering. Vague cardigans became my staple.

They say when the economy starts to tank, it takes the skirts down with it. When the economy recovers, mini skirts are all the rage. My clothing choices mirrored my emotional economy directly.

I wanted to become entirely undesirable and unsexy so as not to accidentally use my body for attention.

Rather than placing my worth on my body by revealing more of it, I overcorrected and placed my worth on my body by excessively covering it up. It was a form of punishment for my past by lowering the confidence of my present self.

My earlier begging of “look at me” switched tracks to “look away from me.”

As we explored with “The Dress” and “The Interior” posts, God didn’t give women gifts unique to our femininity to be ashamed of them. We mustn’t disparage the gifts God gave us as dirty and lust-inciting. We are women for a reason and those of us who are called to marriage were made with our husbands in mind.

There is always going to be someone who finds something desirable about you. There is always going to be a characteristic that someone is going to find sexy or desirable. It could be the way you wear your neckline down to your belly button, or it could be the way your glasses flatter your face.

Desirability and sexiness overlap; the distinction is respect for person.

The trick is to avoid letting what you put on your body distract others from your feminine genius. It is also important to avoid letting your clothing distract you from your own feminine genius.

When you’re staring at your closet, err on the side of classy rather than sexy. Think refined instead of revealing. Flatter your feminine genius without thinking it resides in your body.

Wooop.

Instead of a Bright Maidens post…

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, Irene the Mean has prevented our Trista from accessing consistent Internet so we’re postponing until next Tuesday.

As a lame replacement… I would like to introduce you to a wonderful young lady, Dylana. I’ve mentioned her before and I’ll mention her again. Check her out at her blog, “The Pilgrim’s Paean.”

Yesterday, she posted a few questions to gather information to help her prepare for her upcoming confirmation:

Well, this blog has mostly been about myself and my spiritual journey. But I have a question for you all. Well a few… haha! Here it goes:
1) What books have played a key role in your journey?
2) What about the books that have aided your discernment?
3) How should I prepare for my upcoming Confirmation? (Oh! P.S.-I might be confirming early!! Schyeah!)
4) How have you disciplined yourself to grow in holiness?
5) What penances have you employed?

Before I share my answers, please enjoy Julie’s:

1 & 2) Flannery O’Connor’s letters; The Imitation of Christ by St. Thomas a Kempis, Creed or Chaos by Dorothy Sayers, Free to Love by Marcel LeJuene, The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, Introduction to Christianity by Pope Benedict XVI, In Soft Garments by Ronald Knox, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, and Church Fathers (i.e. Confessions by Augustine)… to start 🙂
3) Discipline yourself in prayer- the Devil will attack and try to separate us from our Lord through hardship, spiritual dryness and other wiles.
4) Charity in all circumstances; constant prayer and petition; reading Scripture; frequent use of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion and Reconciliation
5) Holding my tongue when I am being wronged, especially if I have already made my defense.

My answers:

Source

1) Hands down, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

2) Fantastic question! I think blogs have had a bigger impact on my discernment because they’re short and always there for me to read. Pray, read, pray.

3) Schyeah! Write hand-written letters to important people in your life and tell them how they have impacted you. They don’t have to be Catholic or even Christian. You never know what effect your words of praise and gratitude can have on someone’s spirituality. Also, ditto to Julie!

4) I’ve surrounded myself with good, holy people and I try to learn from them at all times. Of course, I’m friends with people of all walks of spiritual life and I suppose being around them motivates me to employ that which I learn. All of my friends and family teach me, everyday.

5) Good one, Julie!! I have to agree. One of my biggest faults is the NEED to be right or “justified.” When I remember…. I try to keep my mouth shut and just realize that there is no reason for me to fight. It doesn’t always work (can I get an Amen, family?)