As someone known for being a “Strong Independent Woman”, it’s fairly ironic how I think God was looking out for me when making sure I did not turn 29 on my own. Despite seeing a friend happily tie the knot in her early 40s this past summer, the feeling I have had about 2017 is that, despite achieving a number of things, I have achieved things that people normally achieve in the first half of their 20s, and I am about to say goodbye to mine in 365 days. The prospect of settling down, while far away, is now within reach in a way that it wasn’t when I was single: the long time that I expect it takes to get to know someone, and grow into the next stage of a couple’s life, is now underway, while before I still had to wait for the person to show up, and then this time would start. It’s a realistic prospect, and I no longer feel left behind and restless about the time that goes by because I don’t know how long it would take to find someone.
Moreover, graduating with two older PhD candidates awarded at the same ceremony has also taken some of the negativity I had about starting the journey later than many ended it. I now think there is value in what I have done before I started the journey older, and largely anxiety-free, once in London.
For the past few years I have had so much on my plate I haven’t really invested in dating in any intentional way, looking for people and getting to know them, making time for dates etc, so having a partner as I venture on the next stage of my academic career means that I don’t have to beat myself up for not making enough time to meet new people and find someone willing to stick around, which I think is a good strategy as you can’t really count on a boyfriend falling on your lap (despite it being what actually happened to me). It also provides much needed moral support at a time that fees like make it or break it. I wish I could say I am the kind of person who has the direct line to God and always knows what to do and how to feel, but I’m not, and being surrounded by people who build me up instead of tearing me down is a big part of my discernment process. Bonus points when I can rely on these people to have a stronger faith than myself.
If you’ve read my last post, you will know already how my goal for the year is to strengthen my faith by going back to basics. Growing older isn’t just about cutting my long, and lately always tangled, hair into a style that makes me look more put together and elegant and therefore I feel it’s more suitable to the new stage of my life as an almost 30something (I might even start wearing jeans with elegant fine-thread jumpers. I haven’t worn a pair of jeans for most of the time since I was a teenager). Growing older this year has also been about embracing responsibilities I had never dreamed of, like having my picture plastered on leaflets delivered to all my neighbours. Last year, as the Blessed is She planner launched, I really loved the idea of it: it’s so feminine, elegant and pretty, and despite it being very pink I still felt I, who never really liked pink, could use it. However, I did not know whether I could use the day to page view, as my life at the beginning of 2017 was simple. So, like every year since the last year of high school, I have bought a week to view Moleskine, and coloured the calendar with the liturgical colours of the year.
Fast forward to the second half of 2017, and it became clear that holding my life together needed more space to write things I need to remember. I still haven’t taken the plunge of buying the already expensive BiS planner at the huge shipping costs, because it’s the first time I use a day to page diary and I wanted to ease myself into it. So I bought myself a Busy B diary with a cheeky discount from my fellow Team v leader and now stationery blogger extraordinaire Reema over at Aumsome (worry not if you missed out on the discount and still need a diary: they are now on sales).
The diary is full of the Oh So Clever features that characterise Busy B as a brand, and I wish there was still some stock of the accessories to go with it, but it also has a number of differences with my old Moleskine that I think make the use as a liturgical planner even better than my old one.
In my old Moleskine, the calendar came at the beginning in a month to page view. Not only I had cute big colourful boxes, but also had the feasts of the day in the calendar…great, right? Not so. As I used my calendar for daily life, jumping directly to the page for the week I was in, I would need to refer back to the calendar to plan activities around Mass on holy days of obligation etcetera.
In my new calendar I get a view of the whole liturgical year over two pages, which is great for planning ahead (yes, I know Lent goes from Valentine’s Day to April’s Fool, but it’s different to see just how many weeks are in purple in one go instead of having to turn pages between February and April). It also means that there is no space for the feast days, so they got pushed to the left hand side of every day page. Whenever I open my diary, which tends to be much earlier than the BiS devotion would land in my inbox (by the way, am I the only one in Europe who really struggles with the devotions coming in so much later than the start of the day?), I know what day it is in the life of the Church. This is really important to me, as someone who feels at the outskirt of the Church more often than not: it makes the link more prominent in my mind.
Together with reading the Bible in a year, which has turned into a couple endeavour, I want to go back to basics in another way, and learn more about the saints: rediscover those I’ve known all my life, discover those whose names may be somewhat familiar but I don’t know anything about, and find something about them that relates to my life where I’m at. I hope that, by the end of the year, I will feel like I’m perennially in Walsingham.