Friday, August 3, 2018

Where to Find Me

I am really bad at that "networking" thing. I would say I'm not a natural salesman but I won awards during my short stent wandering around Sears getting people to sign up for siding installation. They gave me a bonus for every person who confirmed the appointment with a phone call so I had a nearly 100% phone call rate, before the days of cell phones even. I'm told that was a highly unusual skill.

There's a difference, though, between that kind of one-on-one salesmanship and making connections for their own sake. Maintaining connections as a social fabric. The kind of skill used in social networking. In maintaining multiple platforms to be where the people are.

I love and appreciate the Sir Ken Robinsons of the world who can tuck morsels of truth into lighthearted, relatable banter. Have you seen his multi-tasking joke about the difference between men and women? It's at 13:47. Isn't he hilarious? And yet so seriously real?

To be funny, I'd say the frying an egg portion describes me to a T. To be real I would say my multitasking is not so much external (though I do the same as any other woman in that regard) but an internal work of organizing people and ideas. I intuitively see the root needs undergirding the superficial presentations. While most people focus on the means, I focus on the end. It is hard to then add the everyday maintenance of the superficial or fleeting on top of that.

I'm the kind of person people seek out when they're hurt or troubled, seething or confused. The kind who can be fully present, discussing the hopes and challenges of our human existence. Troubleshooting ways to meet their own goals. The ultimate realist. I'm told I paint a picture in my writing that makes others feel like they're there. That I can organize and clarify in a way that is unparalleled. And I'm also told that I'm a dreamer, an optimist, someone who defines our existence not just by where we are but also by what we are called to be.

I start at the end and work back to the present. That isn't how most people think. "I didn't know where you were going with this and was a little overwhelmed and scared at first, but now I'm following and am on the same page," is a sentiment I frequently hear if I do not spend a great amount of time editing to be able to start a conversation with the now.

There's a place and a need for voices like mine because we speak for the vulnerable who have entrusted their most intimate reality with us and we say to that inner self reflected in all of us that there is more, there is a way, there is hope.

To my great sadness, being an introverted counselor-manager type doesn't garner many dinner party invites. You aren't ever likely to find a crowd gathered around me laughing uproariously like they did with Sir Ken's talk. Even when I put alcohol in others' hands, they somehow feel disinclined to drink. My presence, it seems, is a reminder of our end point, our telos in Christ.

I struggle, though, with communicating this perspective when the modern methods to do so require that social networking skill. If I update Facebook regularly, I'm not on Blogger. If I'm on Blogger, I'm not on YouTube. If I'm on all three, I'm irritable and short-tempered with my family because I cannot also be present with them. I multitask ideas easily but it is frying-an-egg-serious when I'm with a person or his or her needs.

Where have I been? With my family. They've needed me. People are being born, people are dying. It's that stage of life.

It's a beautiful and worthy use of my time. But it is also steeped in the tedious ephemeral of the now. Without the opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level that grounds us in history and unites us in purpose, I am not able to return to those who need me replenished with a grounding of self.

So I am online as well. But I am told that's not enough. I can't only be on Facebook. Or Blogger. Or YouTube. There's also Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and Google Plus. They all have dimensions and algorithms that need to be optimized. They want a picture. A story. A package. Unique presentations refined for their core demographics. Networking.

The tedium only accelerates my burnout.

People like me tend to be renewed through academic or professional circles. Circles they typically built before family life. I built no such circles then, when our society facilitates such things. None that lasted, at least. You might be shocked to learn that I was the kid who started the Catholic campus ministry at my university. And that it was not a move welcomed by the school's social or scientific staff who actively thwarted the work. Or that the priest assigned to campus ministry turned out to be highly troubled, driving people away and causing us to disassociate from the Newman network before his removal from public ministry the following year.

I struggle to find the place for a person like me in this networked world. This world that archives everything you say and do and produce. This polarized world that guarantees vitriol that is ready to be slung at you, your spouse, your children, your friends. I feel a great need to protect my family and to guard my heart, to stay focused on God, and yet to do so not in the future but in the now. The ever-present now, which is all we really have. The now that has my to do list torn from my notebook and trampled on the floor that also holds laundry from the trip we just returned from too sick to address, videos to edit and relish and share, letters to write, meals and curricula to plan, doctors and medicines and therapies to organize, and so many people to love.

You don't need me on Blogger, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, email... You just need me to be present. And I need the same from you.


My Facebook page often features information on the faith, travel, education, planning, inspiration. It rarely features politics or popular news.

The Byzantine Catholic Facebook group is the most popular Facebook group in which I regularly participate (and help moderate). I'm also at Lynne Drozdik Wardach's Great Fast Meals and ByziMom.

Your Word From the Wise YouTube Channel has interviews and other inspiring wisdom from others. It is updated when I get someone to give an interview. I do not produce content for it's own sake so there are no duds. It's asking the questions you want answered and then usually following through for a deeper understanding of the response. You'll need to subscribe to be notified. If you're connected to a larger Eastern Catholic network like a parish or eparchial or social network page, please share these wonderful nuggets so I'm free to just produce them.

Rómen Catholic YouTube channel has videos from my travels. (The title is a play on words as Rómen means "of the east" in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.) Churches, monasteries, hikes, museums, travel trailer/RV life, conferences, that sort of thing. It will ebb and flow based on my travels. Brand new with under 100 subscribers, it is not yet eligible for a custom URL. So hit that subscribe button to help me out!

Your Word From the Wise Facebook page has basically the same purpose of this blog and my news feed, except it is more refined to Eastern Catholic social content. Which in Facebook algorithm means not enough interaction for posts to be shared to the newsfeeds of those who don't ask specifically for notifications from it. It's a double-edged sword. I need more followers who engage to be able to get my content shown to them but can't get followers without people already present and engaged. This is why people have a whole career out of SEO.

Catholic Means Universal is a project I want to see come into fruition. Check it out! It builds local intra-church awareness (Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Oriental Catholic, FSSP, Anglican Ordinariate, dioceses, eparchies, seminaries, parishes, schools, religious houses, monasteries...) and promotes respect among everyday Catholics and our leaders by holding a joint procession called This is Our Cross. It's the perfect opportunity to encounter one another in love, united in Christ. And it is so easy to implement on a single day. Contact me if you want to see it happen, too!

I also make informational graphics. Things like prayer sheets, Confession guides, instructional or curricular text, that sort of thing. I make them available free of charge in response to an expressed need. Much of this work is not online as it is too unique to be of general value. For example, I made a year's curriculum based on the names of the students in a class, teaching them the faith through their patronal saints. Awesome but not useful to others, and potentially violating children's privacy to share their names online. I'd like to eventually re-work some of my guides to be able to offer a convenient purchase option for those who'd like to just buy a printed, laminated copy.

I was asked last week to begin the process for what I hope could turn in to a huge project. It's a little daunting by its size but it is needed and I think my abilities will uniquely improve the work that could potentially affect every Catholic in our nation. I am humbled and determined to stay in the present, leaving any worry about the future to God who provides. I'm likely to share what I learn if the project flourishes. Please pray that it does so only because of the great need it would address.

And then there's me, my family, our parish, our life. I don't share that online but it is full and blessed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all you do, Catherine! I'm so looking forward to following your blog. We each have unique and equally important gifts to share and God only knows that no one person can do all things! Each of us must encourage each other to pitch in and do our part to make the Body of Christ the complete and perfect entity that it should be. Your portion is great, and so is your ambition! We appreciate all your efforts. God bless you in your work!


I love comments. It lets me know people are reading and want me to continue the project!

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