Interview with Julia Hogan

As promised, here is my interview with Julia Hogan. Julia is the author of It’s Ok to Start with You which I reviewed here last week. I enjoyed this book so much and was so honored to be asked to be part of this blog tour. You can go back and see the previous posts of the tour here, on Julia’s website. Or you can click on the links at the bottom of the interview.

My interview with Julia focuses primarily on the spiritual element of self-care. Enjoy!

Hi Julia! It is so refreshing to hear about self-care that includes a spiritual dimension! Can you share a story or two that demonstrates why having spiritual self-care is so critical to a whole self-care plan?
When we hear the term “self-care”, I think the physical side of self-care comes to mind easily. We think of getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising, etc but you are absolutely right that your spiritual life requires just as much self-care as your physical, emotional, and relational life. Why? Well, when you make the time for prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual reading, you are spending time with the one person who knows you best, Jesus. I think that when you are strengthening your relationship with God, you gain a deeper understanding of your priorities and direction in life and this knowledge has a spillover effect into other areas of your life. When you recognize and embrace your worth as a woman or man created and loved by God (as you are right this moment), you want to take better care of yourself, you are more courageous in your life, and you are more confident in who you are and what you need to be at your best so that you can be whatever your are called to be in this season of life.
For so many people, the idea of self-care comes laden with all kinds of stereotypes, buzz words, and even guilt. It was so good of you to very clearly define what self care is, and what it isn’t. So often when it comes to prayer, it is easy to become either 1. Discouraged if you feel like you aren’t seeing “results” or 2. Distracted by life and loose the routine. How would you encourage someone feeling either of these emotions about their prayer life?
I think that it’s helpful to think about your prayer life as time spent deepening your relationship with a friend. Just as you will make it a point to schedule time with friends, send them a quick text, or give them a phone call, in order to deepen your friendship with that person, you can do the same thing with your relationship with God. Think of prayer as keeping the lines of communication between you and God open and as a way to deepen your relationship with Him. And when you feel discouraged, remember that when you spend time with friends, even if you aren’t discussing some incredibly deep topic or doing something amazing and adventurous, you are still enjoying your time with that friend. I can think of many times where my friends and I went for a walk around the block and it was so refreshing. We didn’t have any earth shattering conversations but it helped strengthen our friendship. It’s the same thing with prayer. Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.

Thinking about the spiritual element of self care specifically, it can be hard to know where to start. As Catholics, we are blessed with some built in spiritual practices like the Mass and the sacraments. What have you found to be an effective place to start for someone just embarking on a conscious, intentional, spiritual self-care plan within their daily routine, rather than only on Sundays?

I’m a big fan of signing up for a daily email Gospel reflection. I personally like Bishop Robert Barron’s reflections and Blessed is She. They don’t take long to read (5 minutes max) but they help to get you thinking about what the Gospel means for you and your life. I recommend reading it first thing in the morning so that you can reflect on it throughout the day.

I think the most critical lesson for me to take away from the spiritual section of your book was “Don’t aim for spiritual perfection, but commitment.” What would you say to encourage those of us who get so wrapped up with the “right way” that we lose sight of simply following “the way”?

I think that our quest for perfection holds us back from even getting started when it comes to so many things in life but especially when it comes to self-care. We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life. Maybe you can’t go for an hour of adoration but you can make a quick stop in the chapel once a week. Maybe you can’t make it to daily Mass but you can make time for a novena. The point is, let go of the expectation that you have to be perfect and instead find little ways to bring God into your day whether that’s making a short gratitude list, praying before starting to work, or listening to a spiritual podcast on your way to work. When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

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Here are my take-aways from Julia’s interview. Isn’t she so good?!

  • God loves me and wants a relationship with me. But, this relationship is most often built in little ways.
  • Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.
    • Find what works best for me, not someone else, and be open to trying things out (but also be willing to change my routines if self-care needs to take greater priority)

    When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

    • I’m not perfect! (No matter how many times I think about this, write about this, it’s still so hard to let go of). I will not be perfect in my efforts for greater self-care. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
    We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life.
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    MONDAY – Physical Self-Care with Barb from FranciscanMom

    TUESDAY – Mental Self-Care with Laura Mary Phelps

    WEDNESDAY – Emotional Self-Care with Erika Marie of Simplemama

    THURSDAY – Relational Self-Care with Sarah of Snoring Scholar

    Also, be sure to enter Julia’s contest to win a free copy of Its OK to Start with You

    Contest details: For a chance to win a copy of It’s Ok to Start with You, visit Julia’s Instagram blog tour post and comment with the new self-care practice you will try. Contest ends Friday, September 14th, 2018 and the winner will be chosen at random on Monday, September 17th, 2018.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

    Preparing for Lent – FREE JOURNAL

    I feel like I’m just repeating myself, since I said the same thing for Advent, but can you believe we are already getting emails for sign ups for Lent reflections and books!? Personally, I am not a big fan of when Lent and Easter are so early. I feel like I just had a moment to breathe after the holidays and now my next gulp is full of Lenten themes, sacrifices and preparation for Christ’s Passion. He was just born for goodness sake!

    But, it’s not up to me and so, like the rest of you, we begin looking ahead to what opportunities Lent will bring to our lives.

    It feels like God has been knocking on my heart, especially through my kids. We were at storytime at the library last week for the first time in a while. They have songs, stories and crafts for the kids. This week, they sang a new song which we hadn’t heard before but my kids really liked.

    Do as I’m doing

    Follow, follow me.

    Do as I’m doing

    Follow, follow me.

    It was a follow-the-leader type song, with clapping or jumping or whatever the kids wanted to follow along to. My kids sang it the rest of the day, so naturally I went to bed with it swirling through my head.

    This song is my new motto for our present season in life. My kids are so young still and already they are growing up into unique, individual persons with their own gifts, talents, struggles and temperaments. It is not my or Ben’s job to give them their personality, rather to show them how we use our personalities to their fullest and best. We don’t become saints by becoming someone else, but by becoming the best versions of ourselves. So, if I am striving with all my might to become the best version of myself, I am modeling for my kids how to become the best versions of their selves.

    How to put this into practice? How often do I miss the mark?

    Well, I’ve noticed that John is starting to talk back. A lot. And with attitude, scowls, did I mention attitude, and sulking. He is 6 for goodness sake! And we are still homeschooling and are mindful about what types of media they are exposed to, where is the coming from? Then I start to hum, do as I’m doing, follow, follow me…...

    Rosie is trying so hard to use her words to express her feelings, not her fists. Yet in the process she is screaming her words. A lot. And over-reacting. And so much emotional turmoil and desire to control each moment. Why is she acting like this? Then I hear her singing to herself, do as I’m doing, follow, follow, me…

    I probably don’t need to go into detail about my sweet, 3 year old going on 13 year old Clare. By now you get the picture. While yes, each of my children are their own unique selves, so much of their behavior is simply a reflection of what they are observing day in and out from Ben and I. None of us are perfect and praise God the behaviors I just described are not the full picture of who my kids are. They are kind, loving, goofy, sweet, prayerful and active. They say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” with intentionally and passion. They are beautiful, remarkable children and we are so blessed to be gifted with them. And like anyone else, they have things they need to work on (ahem, like a certain blogger you may know).

    So here’s the plan for Lent. I’ve created another Lectio Divina Journal just like Advent.

    lent 2018 coverI’ve updated the design (only 1 option this time. Lent came up quick!). I kept the blank page for those who wish to select their own passages and also included a Lenten Sacrifice/Commitment tracker. Click on the link above the picture to print and share to your heart’s content.

    What will I be doing with it? I think I’m going to try to incorporate the journal into our school day. We start each homeschool day with a prayer and intention. I plan to add lectio to that for Lent. In light of “do as I’m doing” I’m not going to read the passage from the journal. Rather, I’m going to get the hard copy Bible out and thumb through it to find the passages. I read the Bible fairly frequently, but it’s on my phone usually or laptop. The kids don’t know I’m doing it when I’m doing it. How can I teach them the importance of reading the Bible if they don’t see me actively reading it? We will be learning lectio and also engaging with the physical text of the Bible.

    This will take some sacrifice. It means starting the school day earlier or recognizing that it will go longer. I won’t be able to be frustrated or upset about that if I don’t get up early enough or plan our day appropriately. I will need more patience, more decisiveness, and perseverance if this is going to work in a positive way. It also means I will need to find a way to carve out time in the mornings (ideally) on non-school days to still practice lectio. Again, do as I’m doing….Maybe (hopefully) the growth I strive for in myself will also be reflected in my kids’ behaviors.

    If you’re interested in joining me on this Lenten journey, print the journal. Let’s connect on social media. I’m going to try to be posting either via twitter or the Facebook page what my word is from the day’s lectio. I would love to pray with you. Praying the Scriptures is a practical way to prepare for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

    Peace

    Kate

    Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

    A Rosary a Day Keeps the Frustration at Bay

    Happy All Saints Day!

    A few months ago I read a blog post written by a mom who was trying to find creative ways to curb her frustration with her daughter. As probably every parent can attest to, some days are harder (much harder) than others and kids go through various joyful, stressful, sweet and down right awful stages. The system she that proved effective for her was, brilliantly enough, hair ties.

    I’m sure that others have thought of this before. She would start the day with 5 or so hair ties on one wrist. If she lost her temper or became overly frustrated with her daughter she would move one tie to the other wrist. She would try to earn that tie back through extra efforts at patience, kindness and gentleness. The goal, of course, to start and end the day with all the ties on the proper wrist.

    Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, to what I can only a God moment. I have tried to pray the rosary daily on and off for years now (gosh that makes me sound old!) But it’s true! I can remember being in high school and college trying to say a rosary before bed and never making it past the 2nd decade. Or trying to pray them in the car and losing track of how many Hail Mary’s I said. I’ve tried bracelets, the little rings, pocket rosaries, you name it. Then, 2 weeks ago, it hit me. Use the hair ties!

    So now, if you see me walking around with multicolored hair ties on my wrists, it’s not because I’m over prepared for any hair emergency. I have 5 thin, colorful hair ties that start every morning on my right wrist. As I say a decade I move one to my left wrist. The goal, obviously, is to have all the hair ties on my left wrist by the end of the day.

    I didn’t realize what a game changer this would be. After a few days of this new practice I found myself describing my day in a whole new way to Ben. Here’s what I said, “You know, it’s been a bit of a rough day. But I had enough patience to handle with it, so it really wasn’t a big deal.” What?!? Who is this person who is speaking through me?

    Now it isn’t all sunshine and roses of course. But I have noticed a definite change. I am more focused, especially in those moments when I am wondering what to do next. You know, that found time between finishing the dishes and starting the laundry, or the 2 minutes at your desk before a meeting, or waiting in line at the grocery store? Instead of pulling out my phone or aimlessly wandering through my brain, I am saying a decade of the rosary. There is more found time than I thought I had now that I’m on the lookout for it.

    In this new practice, I am starting to feel more in sync with St. Paul who exhorts us to

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ. – 1 Thess 5:16-18

    So many saints attest to the power of the rosary, here is just a small sampling:

    “”The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales

    “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

    “The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII

    “No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” – Bishop Hugh Doyle

    “The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” – Pope Pius X

    “Our Lady – he says – is always close to Her children and ready to help when we pray to her, when we ask for her protection… let us remember she is always ready to serve and never keeps anyone waiting.” – Pope Francis

     

    Today we celebrate all the saints in heaven, including Mary who is Queen of them all. What a most excellent day to pray a rosary!

    Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com