Emily M. DeArdo

writer

JACKETS!

family, hockeyEmily DeArdoComment

I was lucky enough to be at the Columbus Blue Jackets playoff game last Sunday! (They ended up sweeping Tampa Bay last night!) So I thought I’d share some of the photos I took. If you’re not into hockey, read something else. :)

Heading into the arena.

Heading into the arena.

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(That’s dad. :) )

We had some time before the game—well, a lot of time. We got there around 3:45 and puck drop was at 7, and we had dinner reservations at 4:15 at Buca di Beppo. So we went into the Blue Line (the Blue Jackets’ shop) before the game to check out what was for sale.

After that, we headed to Buca:

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And had a great dinner:

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Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Buca always has great decorations, and pictures of cute things, like babies covered in spaghetti:

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After dinner—TIME TO PARTY!

Heading in to the arena

Heading in to the arena

Pregame show in the concourse

Pregame show in the concourse

One of my friends on FB asked what happens to the hats tossed to the rink when a hat trick happens. At NA, some of them go here:




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Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

The game itself was OBVIOUSLY intense, with the Jackets winning 3-1, and the place exploded. It was so loud in there. I tried to get some video of that but it’s blurry, so I won’t share.

But it was a fabulous experience. I’ve always wanted to go to a playoff hockey game, so I can cross it off the bucket list.

Seven Quick Takes In a Deluge

7 Quick Takes, current projects, Seven Quick Takes, Orchard House, hockeyEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

I.

OK, so, first, I’m thrilled to tell you that the talk I recorded for Kelly’s conference has been accepted! Yay! I’m part of the speaker’s library that attendees will have access to!

What is this conference, you might ask? Kelly has created a conference for Catholic parents of kids with special needs, called “Accepting the Gift.” You can attend in person, OR (and I love this part), you can attend virtually! How cool is that? So if you can’t make it to New Jersey, you can still attend!

Here is the conference page, so check it out! And do attend!


II.

This is also the first talk I’ve done as an adult—I did a witness talk at my parish mission when I was sixteen—but I really do like my talk, all things considered. :) It’s called “Joy Anyway”, and it’s about living life with a chronic illness, because, a lot of the time, we hear from the parents of people like me, but not the actual people who have the illness, and so I’m thrilled that Kelly asked me to contribute my thoughts, because I do care about this quite passionately, as you all know. :)

And of course I love the parents! Parents are awesome! But it’s important to get the perspective from the person with “the thing” as well, in my book. So, thanks Kelly for asking me! (And accepting the talk!)


III.

OK so yeah, it’s deluging here right now. Lots and lots and lots of rain being dumped on Orchard House at the moment. I overslept this morning and this is probably why, because it’s really dark outside. Not that I mind—I generally like rainy days.


IV.

Today is part of the editing process in the writing of the book. My editor has sent me chapters back, and now I go through and play with them and see what I can do to make them better. Some of the changes I just accepted on the first go round because they were easy (like, adapting to the press’s style guide) or just made sense. Bigger changes require more thought and distance, so that’s what I’m doing today.


V.

My birthday was on Tuesday, so I’m thirty-seven now! And it was a gorgeous day, which is rare in central Ohio in early April—it snowed on my birthday (as in the day I was born). But yesterday it was 82 and kids were in the pool, which made me shiver just seeing them in there, because that water was going to be cold!

ANYWAY (digression over!), it was a good birthday with sun and good food.

No, Emily did not eat all this cake. Emily did not come  close  to eating all this cake. We shared it. :)

No, Emily did not eat all this cake. Emily did not come close to eating all this cake. We shared it. :)


VI.

I also think that everyone should like their birthday. Because birthdays mean you survived another trip around the sun! Yay!!!!!! Birthdays are great! I mean, yeah, I’m thirty-seven, but to me, that’s sort of awesome. I wasn’t supposed to hit thirty-three. I wouldn’t have seen twenty-seven without Suzanne, my donor. So, yeah. Birthdays rock.

VII.

It’s hockey playoff time, and Dad and I are going to see the Jackets play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday! This has been a bucket list item for me for awhile—seeing an NHL playoff game. The nice thing is that since the Jackets are playing Tampa, I can unreservedly root for them. When they play the Penguins in the playoffs (as they’ve done before), I can’t do that, I’m torn! But now, I can root for them all the way. It’s going to be great! The Jackets have all sorts of things planned—there’s a big plaza in front of the arena so there will be activities, and the arena opens up earlier than usual so people can head in and start the party. I hope the Jackets win! (They won the first game on Wednesday in Tampa in an amazing comeback. They play tonight. Pens are down one game to none against the Islanders. If you don’t care about hockey, I’m sorry this take was all hockey. :) )

Seven Quick Takes--House Updates, Writing, Hockey

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, the book, Seven Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

I.

So, first, the Penguins are in the playoffs for the thirteenth year in a row. This makes me happy.

(If you’re new here—I’m a huge hockey fan. The Penguins are my “main” team. The Blue Jackets are my “home” team and I want them to make the playoffs too, which they will do if they win one of their next two games.)

II.

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Orchard House is in the stage of “personalization” or “zhushing” as they say on Home Town. I’m putting up pictures and other fun things, like my refreshed ribbon board in my bedroom:


III.

If you want to see how tiny Emily was in college, here’s my college ID closeup, along with one of my favorite magazine cutouts:

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IV.

And about the button. It says “Italians for President Nixon.” Now, obviously, I wasn’t alive to vote for Nixon. But one of my best friends, Branden, is an auctioneer (as well as about 5 million other things, including our county clerk), and he loves political memorabilia, so he thought I’d like it, since I’m half Italian. And I do like it. It’s funny.

V.
The big pink piece of paper is an audience ticket my friend Amilia gave me. She was lucky enough to attend a general audience with Pope St. John Paul II, and she gave me the ticket. You can tell I’ve had it FOREVER, it’s all sun bleached, but I love it.

VI.

The dog picture? That’s Liberty, who used to be Colonial Williamsburg’s mascot. I was so psyched to meet her when we visited two years ago! She was such a good dog!

VII.

I could keep telling stories, but I’ll wrap up with a writing update! (Maybe next week I’ll tell more stories? What do you think? Because everything on this board has a story!)

So I’ve sent chapters 1-4 to my editor. She has sent me edits for chapters 1-2. So we are really making progress! Yayyyy!





Yarn Along #88

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Linking up with Ginny!

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I’m in the last stretch of my Feile shawl. I’ve really enjoyed knitting this so I’m sort of sad to see the end coming, but I can’t wait to wear it! It’s so pretty!

I’ve heard about Peace Like A River for YEARS—seriously, a child life specialist told me about when I was probably 20 or so—so I figure it’s time to read it.

Once I finish the Feile I’m not sure what I’ll do! I want to use the yarn I got at Williamsburg but I don’t know what to make with it! I’m thinking I might go simple and make a cowl or a scarf. Or maybe a hat.

Seven Ways To Bring Joy To Your Day

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

So after my last post, I thought it might be helpful to give you some concrete ways to bring joy to your days when that might REALLY be lacking. So, here we go!

I.

Iris Murdoch said that, “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” So, that’s how we’re looking at this. Small treats!

The first one: Eat your favorite meal. Do the comfort food thing. One meal (and I do mean one) isn’t going to send everything into a tailspin. For me, it’s usually Chuy’s or pasta carbonara. Eat something you enjoy. And enjoy it, while you eat it.

II.

Take a lunch break. When I was working full-time, a lot of my days were…rough. So I would go to Barnes and Noble on my lunch break. Even if I didn’t buy anything, just getting out of the office and into a place that I loved was a great way to reset my day and give me energy to get through the rest of the day.

III.

Go to Eucharistic Adoration. Just sit with Jesus. You don’t have to do anything. Just be there and rest in his presence.

IV.

If you’re not near a chapel, then take some time to pray—a decade of the rosary, reading the Bible, whatever works for you.

V.

Read your favorite book or watch your favorite movie. Say, “tonight is movie night. I’m going to go home and watch my favorite movie and eat popcorn and it’ll be great.”

VI.

Have something to look forward to. Schedule lunch with a friend, make a date to see a movie (even if the date is with yourself, there is nothing wrong with that!), but get something on your calendar that makes you happy, even if it’s something small.

VII.

This doesn’t always work for me, but it might work for some of you—do something physical. That can mean working out, but for me it can also mean playing the piano or singing or even knitting. Do something that moves your body and makes you focus on something else. Sometimes just saying to myself, I can work on that knitting project, or I can do yoga class on Friday, is really helpful.


These are just a few suggestions of things that work for me. I hope they help you!





Joy In the Morning (OR: How I get up every day and do life)

CF, essays, transplantEmily DeArdo2 Comments
My siblings and I on my brother’s wedding day.

My siblings and I on my brother’s wedding day.

Warning: This might be a sort of rambly post. Settle in.

I was visiting my therapist last week. Yes, I see a therapist. I have since I was 17. A lot of people with CF do (not all, but a lot). I have no shame in telling you that.

So anyway, I was at an appointment with my therapist, and we were talking about how I was a bit maxed out on doctor visits. I mean, in almost thirty-seven years of life, I think my quota’s been hit, right?

And that doesn’t even count the other “stuff” we do—Mom accessing my port every month, the meds I take (which are vastly less than pre-transplant, btw), the blood glucose tests I’m doing twice a day now, etc. It’s a lot. It’s less than pre-transplant in some ways, and more in others. I have a colonoscopy every five years, which means one next year. I have a mammogram in April, because my mom had breast cancer and so my sister and I have to start our mammograms at age 37 (ten years before Mom was diagnosed). And then there’s dentists and eye doctors and the things normal people do.

So, yeah, it’s a lot.

This led to talking about compliance, which means, doing what the doctors tell you to do. And I told a story that I thought was illustrative.

When I was about seventeen, I was having a regular clinic visit, an I saw a sign on the wall of the exam room, saying that if you were 95% compliant with taking pulmozyme (one of the CF meds), you’d get a prize at your next clinic visit, see your nurse for a chart to win! Stuff like that.

Now, I never did these, because, generally, I was too old. This stuff was generally for the smaller kids, to get them in the habit. But what I thought was interesting was that the center wasn’t pushing perfect compliance.

Because that doesn’t exist.

Now, look, I’m not saying I was a slacker. Because I wasn’t. My mom, for one, wouldn’t let me be, even if I was disposed that way. I take my meds. I did my treatments. But yes, sometimes there were times where I put in a few minutes of precious sleep over a “perfect” Vest treatment, when I was in college. Sometimes I just went to bed. Not often, but sometimes. I wasn’t “perfect”, and I’m not perfect now. To be “perfect” now, I’d be a MESS. I’d be taking meds all day long, worrying about timings and if this was going to interact with that and how does this work and oh my gosh my brain is going to explode!

I take all my meds, and I take them twice a day. Is that perfect? Well, no. It’s not optimal. If can affect absorptions. *

But here’s the thing—I want a life. I don’t want to live in a glass bubble.

I went to school. I did activities. I rode bikes with my friends and went to the pool in the summer with them and then we went to the coffee shop and played board games. I had sleep overs, where I didn’t bring my equipment! I went on choir tour! (And yes, I brought the mini nebulizer!) I went to college.

Honestly, if my parents had tried to wrap me up in the bubble, I would’ve had a fit. I always wanted to be like everyone else, as much as possible. As Erin once said in a Home Town episode, I’m like a wild pony, and I need freedom!

(Not too much freedom. But enough freedom.)

So anyway, talking about all the things I had to do every day, my therapist then said, well, how do you do it? I mean, what gets you up in the morning?

And then I said, “well, that’s sort of what my book is about.” (Because it sort of is. Sort of. The book is sort of about a lot of things! )

But here’s what it comes down to:

Yes, there are a lot of things I have to do in my life. More than the average bear, that’s for sure, so when people say “well, you just have to suck it up and do X,” I want to roll my eyes, because that’s a big chunk of my day. (I’d wager it’s a large part of everyone’s day. As my grandfather used to say, “that’s why they call it work!”) But yeah, for me, and for other people like me, we have a lot of stuff on a daily basis that isn’t fun but must be done, and you just do it and don’t whine about it.

But what gets me up in the morning? Well, a lot of things. I’m very in touch with my inner child and I get excited about really little things. When I was working in the Senate, a lunch date with my Dad was enough to make me excited for the day. Today, it’s stuff like, a package is coming in the mail! It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh! I get to write today! Oh, this book comes out! My book is in at the library! Chuy’s with Mary!

I’m very easily amused. And that helps me, I think, because it overrides a lot of other things that are not so fun. (Like making myself go to the gym. And poking my fingers. And doing doctor paperwork.)

But a big part of this, and this is what I’d say to anyone facing a chronic illness, is this:

Go live your life!

You really, really, really cannot hole up in your house and be all sheltered. You can’t. GO LIVE YOUR LIFE. Go outside! Do things! Be free! Have fun! Go to the park! Go swimming! Pet a dog! Whatever!

Yes, treatments are vital. YES, compliance is important—if I hadn’t been a compliant patient I NEVER would’ve been listed for transplant! But if you’re caught up in PERFECT, then…..you’re going to miss things and your life will be so small.

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Seriously. Do what the sign says.

Live your life. Take your brain with you.

*: As far as absorptions: the only meds I take that NEED to be taken around the same time every day are my immunosuppressants (the prograf). That’s important. However, I am also far enough out that if I’m off by a few hours in a dose, the world will not end. When I traveled to LA, my nurses told me to just take the meds on LA time and not worry about being exact. I used to take my meds exactly at 8 AM and 8 PM (even rushing to the lobby of the Ohio Theater to take meds before a symphony concert started). Now, it’s generally around those times. I’m not quite as OCD.

The meds I’m talking about here are things like my nexium and magnesium supplements. You’re not, really, supposed to take them together. But if I didn’t, then I’d be carrying around meds all day and thinking about when to take them, as opposed to thinking about things more worthy of my brain space! It’s not a huge deal to take them together. But yes, some meds do have to be taken at certain times, and when I do those (like home IVs) then, yes, it’s on the dot as much as possible. You usually have about an hour leeway on either side of the dose time (for example, if the dose is due at 6 PM, you can do it at 5 or 7, but not 4 or 8.)








The Annunciation

CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment
Jean Hay ,  The Annunciation ,  1490/95., oil on panel.

Jean Hay, The Annunciation, 1490/95., oil on panel.

Happy solemnity of the Annunciation!

(If you’re a Tolkien fan, you know today was the day the Ring was destroyed….so go watch Return of the King today.)

I thought I’d share some poetry with you today. I don’t generally do this, but there’s a lot of good stuff about the Annunciation, so, to the poets!

John Donne, Divine Poems, 2. Annunciation


 Salvation to all that will is nigh;

That All, which always is all everywhere,

Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,

Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,

Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie       

 In prison, in thy womb; and though He there

Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He’ll wear,

Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.

Ere by the spheres time was created thou

Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;        

Whom thou conceivest, conceived; yea, thou art now

Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother.

Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room

Immensity, cloistered in thy dear womb.

And some Rilke. In this one, the angel Gabriel is the speaker.

Annunciation
The Angel speaks


You are not closer to God than we
We’re all from Him so far

Yet with such sweet wonder

Your hands blessed are.

So do they ripen, so they shimmer

from the sleeves as by no woman before.

I am the day, I am the dew,

But Thou,

Thou art the Tree.


I'm weary, for the way was long

Forgive me, I forgot

What He, who sits in gold array as in the sun sent me to say,

You thoughtful one

(great space bewilders me)

You see: I am the beginning

But Thou,

Thou art the Tree.


Wide I spread the arc of my flight

I found myself so strange and far

And now your little house is drowned

in the folds of my great, bright dress.

And yet you’re alone as never before

You don’t see me at all

As if: I’m a breath of wind in the wood

But Thou

Thou art the Tree.


All the angels fear like this

Let one another go:

Never had we such desire

Uncertain yet so great

Perhaps that something happens soon

You only know in dreams

Hail, for thus my soul now sees:

You ready and so ripe.

You, Lady, are the great, high door

that soon shall open wide.

You, most beloved ear to my song

Now I feel: my word is lost

in you as in a wood.


So I came and I fulfilled

A thousand and one dreams

God looked at me; bedazzled me…

But Thou

Thou art the Tree.

Seven Quick Takes from the New Place

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

linking up with Kelly!

I.

Recent posts from these parts:

Meet Orchard House
The contract came!

II.

This video is right on, in all ways:

“That’s compassion!”

“That’s eugenics.”

III.

New desk here. For your Home Town fans: quarter sawn white oak, yo!!!

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IV.

There are two more boxes that need unpacked, but everything has been sort of a blur this week so I’m sort of delaying that. A bit. Maybe. :)

V.

I had clinic on Monday and things are pretty good. lung function is stable. My A1c (a measure of sugar in your blood, over time, to put it really basically) is trending upward, though, so that means I’m going back to checking my blood sugar a few times a day, and we’re going to tweak the diet. Yay. My enthusiasm is noted. Essentially, the last three months were stress-tastic so there was stress eating and all sorts of other not-great health decisions, so I have to be much more disciplined in this area.

Well, it is Lent. So being penitential is cool right now. So, into the gym and into a stricter diet I go….

VI.

I re-read the Ramona Quimby books this week, because Ramona is good comfort reading, right? :) She’s also good quick reading.

VII.

I lived in my old place for about 14 years, so one of the things I have to get used to now is new traffic patterns/timing. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get places anymore, because new traffic over here! So that’s been a little stressful since I had two doctor’s appointments this week (the above mentioned clinic and my dermatologist). But I know I’ll figure it out…eventually.



I Never Want to Get Used to This

behind the scenes, the bookEmily DeArdoComment

I came home from grocery shopping yesterday and found a box against my door.

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This is the box that holds my contract, as well as some AMP swag (yay swag!) and other notes that are important in the Writing of The Book.

I still really can’t entirely believe this is happening.


And yes, the book is being written. The contract will be signed and mailed today so yay!


Orchard House

essays, Orchard HouseEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I’ve decided to call the new place Orchard House, for a few reasons.

One, Little Women was the first “adult” book I read, back in third grade, and it’s always resonated with me, in various stages. As a kid, I liked Amy, because she looked like me (the blonde). Of course I evolved into Jo, the writer; Beth, the one who stayed behind, was also relevant for a lot of my life, although I’ve never been that sweet, and she played piano, which I do (sort of—I’m self-taught). Meg, the oldest, has also had resonance over the years.

Also, Orchard House was a cozy place of creation—the girls were always making something—but it was a home. Sort of idealized, yes, but a comfortably, cozy, safe place. Who doesn’t like that idea?

And of course, there will be lots of writing happening here. So I’ll be channeling Jo in her attic room. Although my room isn’t an attic and it’s a bit nicer.

I  love  my desk!

I love my desk!


So, a snapshot of the new place, and it’s name. More decorating photos to come, but I wanted to introduce you!

The Week of Everything

essaysEmily DeArdoComment
A gorgeous rose from the bouquet my brother and sister in law sent me, celebrating the book!

A gorgeous rose from the bouquet my brother and sister in law sent me, celebrating the book!

This is the week of everything.

I’ve started writing the book.

I will sign the contract this week.

I’m moving.

Yup, it’s a lot.

But in the midst of all this good stress (and it is good stress), I’m really thankful for my body.

And that’s weird for me to say, because normally, my body and I are at odds. It’s not perfect, by any standard. And it never will be. It’s always going to be ‘Healthy for me’, which is not healthy for anyone else, generally.

But right now, it’s able to take out big bags of trash, and go under beds and cabinets, and pack boxes, and clean toilets. It’s slow going, because my knee never really recovered from the meds last fall, which messed it up, and I still only have 54% lung function (which is so much better than 19%, don’t get me wrong!), so I don’t work as quickly as someone else might.

But my body can do these things. And I’m really grateful for that. It can do these physical tasks, and I can type these words.

So even though it’s the week of Everything, and I’m running around like a crazy person, I’m glad I can run around like a crazy person.

No yarn along this week, and no quick takes, because it’s The Week of Everything!

But next week, maybe a tour of the new place?

Did That Really Just Happen?

writing, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
Jo's novel .jpg

Well, guys.

It happened.

I have a book contract.


Yes. IT’S TRUE!!!!!

I’m going to write a book for Ave Maria Press, uniting my story with a Way of the Cross. The book is tentatively titled The Way of Your Cross, and it’s devotional in nature. It’s going to incorporate Pope St. John Paul II’s Salvific Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), Scripture, all sorts of stuff.

I am thrilled to death. And also flabbergasted. And….just amazed. It’s sort of like the world’s best caffeine high.

I’ve been going around the world like Belle in the bookshop.


I mean, it’ll be a real book! On REAL SHELVES! That people can REALLY GO TO A STORE AND BUY!

I feel a lot like Jo in Little Women. “I'‘M AN AUTHOR!!!!”

I can’t quite process this.

(Last GIF, I swear:

The book will be for sale next Lent, we’re hoping. That’s the goal.

Now I have to write the thing.

Obviously I will keep you updated! If you want to know about book stuff FIRST, then please sign up to follow the blog, so you get all the news first!

Thank you for all the support and prayers, everyone! It means the world to me!



Ash Wednesday Yarn Along!

books, knitting, Lent, yarn alongEmily DeArdo2 Comments

It’s Yarn Along Time!!!! :)

And it’s Ash Wednesday, so happy Lent to you! And yes, I do mean “happy” Lent. I really like Lent, probably because: 1) I’m a spring baby, and 2) I was born on Good Friday. So, I like Lent. And I also need discipline every once in awhile (who doesn’t), and the spiritual rigor of it, the peeling away of the non-essential, is a good thing.

Anyway, to the yarn!

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OK, so the details:

This is the Feile shawl, which I am loving. I love how the stripes change—do you see how they had a sort of neat pattern going on, and then switch to solid stripes? Love that. Eventually, the contrast color, the blue, will become the dominant color as I work toward the end of the shawl, with the white being the contrast. This is a really easy shawl, but the fun is in the slight pattern changes. The thing that’s going to be a pain is all the end weaving in! But oh well.

I’m using Frabjous Fibers yarn, the Mad Hatter base (sport weight). The white speckled is Victorian China, and the blue is called “Muchness” (seriously, isn’t that great?). I’m using Knitpicks sunstruck needles, size 4, on one of their interchangeable cables.

The book is a great one for Lent, I think: Catherine Doherty’s The People of the Towel and Water. It’s about doing every day activities as prayer—really being present in the moment, and allowing everything you do to be prayer, working for God, even when you’re sweeping or cleaning or writing (or knitting!). Catherine founded Madonna House, and I’ve been reading some of her writing lately. I recommend it!

Listen Up! (For World Hearing Day)

essays, health, hearing lossEmily DeArdoComment
(c) Wikipedia

(c) Wikipedia

World Hearing Day was yesterday, and so I thought I’d put up links to the post I wrote last year, about my CI and how it works and ways people can make hearing better for everyone!

So if you missed them the first time:

Part I: How I lost my hearing

Part II: How the Cochlear Implant Works

Part III: Living with a CI

Part IV: Accommodations, i.e., the post that you should read even if you don’t read any of the others!


I am (hopefully!) getting my CI upgraded in the next few months. The current processor I have has been “obsoleted”, meaning that if it breaks, Cochlear (the company who makes my processor) won’t fix it, they won’t sell any more replacement parts for it, etc. Now, they do this, in part, so that insurance companies will pay for new processors, because if it can’t be fixed anymore, then, yeah. Probably need an upgrade. This one should be better and allow me to hear more, but I have no idea until I get it. :) I do know that it will have bluetooth capability so it can stream my iPhone sound directly into my processor, and this might be a big thing. We’ll see what happens and I’ll let you know!

And thinking about my CI is timely because of a conversation I had in a lung transplant group on facebook. We were talking about the toxicity of a certain class of meds, and that they are crazy hard on the body. Some people were adamant that they would never take a drug in that class.

But here’s the thing—all meds are toxic at some point. They just are. Tylenol is! I knew that the ototoxic drugs were destroying my hearing. But I decided I’d rather be alive, than dead with great hearing. It’s about choices. And sometimes, yes, you just have to cut out a class of drugs. The meds I took over the fall for a sinus infection have pretty much messed up my right knee permanently. I’m not really happy about that. But you know, I like being alive, I like that we managed to stop the infection without it 1) getting into my lungs and 2) requiring the big guns of IV meds and /or hospitalization.

It’s a trade off.



Seven Quick Takes--Bits and Pieces

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdo4 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

—1—

So the month of February has been STRESS CITY and I’m glad it’s over and I’m back to sleeping properly. :) I had to record a talk, which I was nervous about, and then I had book proposal stuff to do, and then I have MOVE stuff to do, and while all this stuff is good stuff, it’s also a lot, so whew. But things have calmed down a bit and I’m back to being stressed but not insanely so.

—2—

The book proposal is going to the publisher groups today for them to look over. Please pray for it?

—3—

One of the reasons I think I was stressed is that I couldn’t knit! I was waiting for a special order of yarn to come in so I could get back to my knitting project, and now that it has, I can knit again!

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It looks sort of messy because of all the little tails, but it’ll be fine. :) This is the Feile shawl, which uses a variegated yarn and a solid color. It’s a really easy pattern and already I’m thinking about the variations I can do on this theme.

The yarn is INCREDIBLY yummy—it’s Frabjous Fibers Wonderland Yarns, Mad Hatter base (sport, which is a little heavier than the fingering yarn that’s called for). The speckled is in Victorian China, and the blue is Muchness. It’s a gorgeous blue, really sort of blue violet, bluebell-y color, and I adore it. I could wear this color all the time! So I have a feeling this shawl is going to get a lot of wear.

—4—

Moving is rapidly coming up and I’m in the stage where I want to throw out everything except books and yarn and tea and just start again. :-P (Well, and my bed. ETc.) There are boxes and bags everywhere, it’s definitely chaotic around here!

—5—

I’m really late to the party but I’ve been watching Best Picture nominees (Green Book won, if you missed that). I’ve seen Black Panther and A Star Is Born so far, and Roma is next.

Black Panther was….good, but not Best Picture good, in my opinion. I’m not really a Marvel comic book person so watching the movie I had to infer a lot, which I generally don’t like, but I understand I’m not the target audience. I loved the costumes and the sibling relationship was the best part. But the actual action seemed….slow, to me. I know, again, I’m not the target audience. But not good.

—6—

I did, however, really like A Star Is Born, and I didn’t think I would, because I am loyal to the Judy Garland Version, and it’s still a better version because, hello, “The Man That Got Away” and freaking Judy Garland. BUT—this version was good. Good pacing, I surprisingly liked the music, and the acting was solid, even remarkable at times.

Yes, there was too much swearing.

BUT, I really did like this movie. Last scene? Total goosebumps.

—7—

Do you have Hosanna for Lent yet? Go get it!


For Lent: Hosanna

Take Up and Read, Lent, prayerEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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Hosanna is the new Take Up & Read offering for Lent, and she is so lovely!

I know I say that about all our books, but guys, she really is.

ESSENTIALS:

Hosanna covers the Gospel of Matthew
It runs from Ash Wednesday (ahem, next week!) to Easter Monday, so it’s the entire season of Lent!
Extra deep dives on the Beatitudes (photo below), and special Scripture for the triduum!

A variety of contributors, as always, and gorgeous art by Kristin Foss.
Plenty of space for journaling!

Available on Amazon

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SCRIPTURE MEMORY every week.

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Here are the deep dive into the Beatitudes pages!

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Daily Scripture written out, with plenty of room for lectio divina on the next page.

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On Saturday, we give you a selah day , meaning time to relax and go back and do pages you may have missed, or just check in with yourself, your spiritual life, and how the week went for you.

All of these books are a true labor of love—we love writing them and making them for you, but we really love sharing God’s Word with you! Come join us this Lent!

Got $20? You can feed a child for an entire YEAR!

Catholicism, essays, LentEmily DeArdoComment

I am a BIG fan of Mary’s Meals, and you should be, too! Let me tell you why.

(Also, SUPER cute video at the bottom!)

One of the Mary’s Meals t-shirts I picked up at the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference last weekend.

One of the Mary’s Meals t-shirts I picked up at the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference last weekend.

As we approach Lent, people start to think about Lenten penances, and the pillars of Lent: Almsgiving, Fasting, and Prayer. We should think about these things all year, of course, but especially during Lent, when we prepare for Christ’s Death and we imitate His 40 days in the desert.

It’s sobering to think about people who do not have enough to eat, who are truly starving. Not just “food insecure”, but really, truly, starving. People who will not eat on a daily basis. According to World Vision, one in eight people in the developing world do not have enough to eat.

Mary’s Meals has a simple idea: One nutritious meal every day for a child in a place of education.

Children who are hungry can’t learn. That seems obvious, right? You can’t think if you’re starving.

64 MILLION children around the world who are hungry can’t attend school—they have to beg for their food instead.

Mary’s Meals wants to stop that—they want to help children LEARN and be fed.

So, in 18 country around the world, they set up food serving stations at schools, run by local volunteers, who feed the children a nutritious meal every school day. In some places, it’s an actual school. In others, like in India, it’s “non-formal education centers”, like railway platforms, where kids learn and eat. In Madagascar, they actually feed children in prison, because in the prisons, the food service isn’t consistent. The kids learn and get fed.

Feeding one child for an entire school year costs $19.50.

That’s it! $20 feeds a child who otherwise wouldn’t eat. And when they eat, they are better equipped to learn, and as they learn, they can get out of poverty, get a job, and help themselves and their families break the cycle of crushing poverty.

Currently, Mary’s Meals is feeding more than one million children around the world! Which is amazing, but there is still more work to be done.

Magnus McFarlane-Barrow, the founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, spoke at the conference last weekend, and he is passionate about feeing these children, about making a difference, and it’s so simple to do. This isn’t a hard thing. They will do anything to get these kids food; in Haiti, they deliver food to the foot of a mountain and carry the food up to the school settlement! Even though Mary’s Meals is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and Magnus is Catholic, the schools serves everyone, not just religious schools.

This Lent, I think it’s a great idea to support Mary’s Meals however you can. Maybe you eat a simple meal and save the money you would’ve spent on going out—do that once a week, and at the end, give the money to Mary’s Meals. Maybe you can hold a bake sale or a fundraiser at your school. There are lots of ways to help!

Donate right here. Think about it. $20—a movie ticket and a soda, or an entree at a nice restaurant—that can feed a kid for an entire year. That makes a huge difference in a child’s life.

To find out more, watch Child 31, the documentary about Mary’s Meals:

And the follow-up, Generation Hope:




And if you like the actor Gerard Butler, like I do (he was in The Phantom of the Opera!), then you’ll love this video of him directing kids in Haiti at a Mary’s Meals school!












Be Like Briony! (Or: Disability and Reality TV)

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

So, I love the Great British Bake Off. Do you? :)

(For those of you who have no idea what it is: 12 bakers in Britain bake three challenges every week—two they can practice, one they can’t—they don’t even know what it is. The bakes cover pies (their pies, not American pies), cookies (biscuits in England), bread, patisserie, all sorts of things. At the end of each week, one person is “Star Baker” and one person is sent home.)


Anyway, I was watching the 2018 Bake Off on Netflix over the weekend, and I was super happy to see Briony, one of the contestants, on the show. Why? Well, first, she’s just great, but second, because she has a disability and she didn’t make hay about it!

She has what she calls a “little hand”—it’s a birth defect where she only has six fingers:

Explaining why she and Channel 4 chose not to mention what she has dubbed her “little hand”, the 33-year-old said: "I specified early on that I didn’t want them to make a big deal out of it because I just wanted to see how people would view it".

Williams went on to say that her disability is “a part of me, not all of me” before adding: “It’s not that I’m embarrassed about it or ashamed of it in any way. I want to be there on my own merit and I don’t want people to think that I’m getting special treatment.

Think about this. BAKING! With six fingers!

But what I love is that it’s never mentioned on the show. Never. She just bakes. She doesn’t use special equipment, there aren’t any “special moments” where she has a tender music fueled close-up where she talks about “overcoming”. She just does her stuff! And it’s great stuff!

When I was on Jeopardy! I didn’t really want to talk about my transplant. But….I did. Because that was the most “interesting” thing about me, apparently (eye roll). And they did make accommodation for me—but I didn’t ask for it—they did it in the interest of fairness, because they wanted to be scrupulously fair. So there weren’t any video categories for my game, or any music clues (even thought I might have done OK with that!).

The reason I like this so much is because I HATE a lot of reality TV—especially the talent/singing shows, where the singer comes up and does her bit and then spiels all about her issues.

Look. THIS DRIVES ME NUTS. I have always wanted to be judged solely on my abilities. I would never enter a contest and then pay the pity card. EVER. I didn’t do it for Jeopardy!, I don’t do it when I audition for shows, I don’t do it, period. Because I don’t want to get pity. I want to get respect for what I can do. So when I see people talking about how “Oh, this person with X was crowned Homecoming Queen!” or “this person with Y is on X Factor!” I want to scream. Because it makes it sound like that person only did these things because of pity. Not because of their excellence, their human qualities, their goodness, etc., but they become like side shows. “Oh, look, this person can be like anyone else!” these shows croon. Whereas Briony (and I hope, me) just go out and do it. We don’t have to draw attention to it. It just is. Not everything has to be a Special Inspirational Story of the Day!

Briony is my sort of person. She has an issue, yeah. But I mean, it’s not her whole identity. I’ll tell you I’m hearing impaired. Blog readers know it. But if you met me in actual life, you might not know. The people on Jeopardy! didn’t know until I told them. That’s how I like it. If I need accommodation, I’ll tell you. But I want to be judged on my merits, not on the pity you feel for me. I do not want pity votes.

Briony got on the show because she’s a kick butt baker. And that’s what matters!

Vulnerability and Community

essaysEmily DeArdoComment
Jules Adolphe Breton,  The Song of the Lark

Jules Adolphe Breton, The Song of the Lark

I am really, really bad at being vulnerable.

Meaning: I don’t like to ask people for help. I’m terrible at it, really.

I have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of women are the same way.

But lately I’ve been thinking about this: we need each other. We need community. As so many things do it reminds me of In This House of Brede, where Lady Abbess tells Philippa, “You need the community,” when Philippa is trying to pray for something on her own.

We need community.

So why don’t we ask for it?

Are we embarrassed? Our house is a mess. I don’t want anyone to think that I can’t do it myself. Etc.
Are we afraid that people won’t help us?
Are we afraid that people will judge us? Oh, I was at so and so’s house yesterday and OH MY GOSH…..

I don’t know about you, but I’m honored to help people. I like helping people.

I don’t care what your house looks like. I’m coming to see you, not photograph your house for Architectural Digest.

What do you need? Do you need someone to grocery shop for you because the kids are sick and you can’t get out? Do you need someone to watch the baby while you shower? Are you just overwhelmed and you need someone to vacuum while you start the dishwasher so you can feel like you’re making some progress in your life? Do you need someone to listen, and pray for you?

Community should do all those things.

In 2001, I was in the ICU for two weeks, and in the hospital for a little over a month, total. I came home in time for Thanksgiving. My brother was with the band, performing in the Macy’s parade—a bigger event than usual that year, since it was right after 9/11, and each band member marched in honor of someone who died that day. Since Bryan was gone, and Thanksgiving was never a big deal in my family, we were just going to watch the band and have something heated up from the freezer.

But while the parade was on, a woman came to the door from our church. She brought us a Thanksgiving dinner. She knew that, since I’d just been released from the hospital a few days ago, Mom probably hadn’t bought the ingredients, we probably weren’t planning on cooking. So our church friends gathered around and brought us the meal.

That’s community.

It doesn’t matter if someone is having their first, fifth, ninth, fourteenth baby. We should bring them meals. We should rejoice in this new life.

We should want to cultivate relationships that allow for vulnerability, for people to feel safe asking for help.

Do you feel safe, asking your friends to help you? I hope so.

I wasn’t planning on writing this, but it seems important to me, now more than ever, maybe, to want to encourage this. Step in, step up, and be community for each other. Help each other out, whether it’s just listening over a pizza or a cup of coffee, or sending a card, or helping someone with their dishes and vacuuming when they’ve had a rough week, or holding the baby so mom can get clean for the first time in a week.

As Christians, we’re supposed to love one another. Part of love is service. Let’s not be afraid to be vulnerable, and to be community for each other.

Seven Quick Takes!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, Take Up and Read, writing, LentEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Linking up with Kelly!

—1—

Lent is coming soon! (It’s in a little over a month, if you can believe it.) Take Up & Read has a beautiful new book for Lent, focusing on the Gospel of Matthew, called Hosanna.

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We have new writers, some new design and prayer pages, and all sorts of other goodies that you can read about here.

Making it EVEN BETTER is that right now the book is ON SALE! That’s right—price drop! We don’t know how long this will last, so go grab your copy!

I love the gospel of Matthew, so I was thrilled to contribute an essay to this book. I’m sure you’ll love it!

—2—

Did January feel like it lasted FOREVER to anyone else? Whew. I’m glad that month is over. February always feels like it moves pretty quickly, but it’s also the last full month before my move, so it feels like time moves even faster.

—3—

I’m still Kon Mari-ing the house. I’ve done clothes, books, papers, and I’m in “komono” (AKA EVERYTHING ELSE), but even that is moving well so I should have that done in the next week or so. Yay!!!!

—4—

A brief bit of policy wonkery (if you’re new here, I worked for the state government for ten years, so in a past life I lived, ate, and breathed policy wonkery). This really isn’t about policy, per se, as it is about common sense:

If you are contacting a representative about a policy proposal that you support or do not support, please remember to be respectful, to be brief, and to contact your representative. Please don’t call a representative that doesn’t represent you (as in, you live in Ohio, but you’re calling a senator from Colorado or Hawaii). This irritates the staffers and does not make them happy. They want to know what their constituents think. Not what everyone in the country thinks.

And if you call your elected representative for any reason, please be nice to the person on the phone. It is not that person’s fault that you are having issues with whatever you’re having issues with. If you are mean, that does not make them want to help you! Do not make the person answering the phone cry with streams of curse words! STOP IT!

—5—

Do you re-read books? Please tell me you do. To me, half the fun is in re-reading. I read so quickly that if I didn’t re-read, I’d be really bored. Re-reading is good!

—6—

My friend Richelle asked me if I’d read all of Dickens’ novels. I haven’t'; I’ve read 10 of his 15 novels (A Christmas Carol is considered a novella, and I have read that as well). The last five I have to read are Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Our Mutual Friend, and his unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

If you’re looking to start reading Dickens (he’s not my favorite, but he is an important writer), I’d suggest starting with A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist (because just about everyone knows the basic story), and A Tale of Two Cities, which is one of my favorites. These are all pretty short, too, which is a plus, given that some of his novels are the size of bricks.

—7—

I’m also watching Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix. The series is good, but he book is even better (same title), because it EXPLAINS THINGS, like why you should boil potatoes in salt water before you roast them! I had always wondered about this and now I know. (It’s because you get the salt in to the potatoes—if you just roast them, then you toss salt on top of them and that doesn’t really penetrate said potato).