7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 162)

March 2, 2012 | 47 comments

— 1 —

(I’m typing this as I pack for my trip to Denver to speak at the LCF Conference, rushing over to my computer in between trips from the closet to my suitcase, so I apologize in advance if my Quick Takes seem even more scattered and random than usual this week.)

Anyway, it looks like I’ll be pulling from a different section of my closet for this trip, since this is our current weather here in Austin:

And this is the forecast for Denver:

You mean there are parts of the country where everyone isn’t walking around in shorts and t-shirts right now?! On the plus side, when I told my son he would probably get to see snow, he declared that this is going to be the best homeschooling field trip EVER.

— 2 —

I’ve been to quite a few conferences over the past year, and every time it has been impressed upon me just how much of a need there is for these kinds of in-person events. The digital age has left us more connected than ever, but many people now spend relatively little time socializing in person (remember back when we talked about the online world as the new village water well?) Also, our communities are more fractured; with everyone moving around so much, it’s common for people to feel like they don’t have anything in common with — or even know — the folks who live right next to them. Whenever I go to these events, everyone there is always so happy. There is a palpable sense of relief, as if evseryone is collectively saying, “FINALLY I get to hang out with likeminded people — in person!”

— 3 —

Case in point: this fascinating series of photos of people eating dinner (via Slow Mama). The word that came to mind with many of the pictures was isolated. I was surprised by the number of people who ate alone and/or who watched TV or used the computer during dinner. That’s not always bad (on a day like today it sounds awesome to have a romantic dinner with my laptop), but the photos did make me think that the average person is in desperate need of more meaningful in-person interactions with other people.

— 4 —

As I look for something to wear this weekend, I’m reminded that I am in the middle of the wardrobe crisis that I’ve been waiting to have for ten years: all my clothes are too big. I don’t mean a little loose; I mean I perpetually look like I’m headed out to an M.C. Hammer costume contest.

Over the past few months I’ve lost 25 pounds. That’s a good thing, mainly since the drop on the scale was more of a side effect of lifestyle changes that have left me with more stamina and energy than I had when I was 20. But the situation would be perfect if we had won the lottery too, because new clothes are really not in the budget right now. As it is, I walk around the grocery store with low-hanging baggy jeans and slouchy shirts, teenagers giving me approving looks when they see we’re wearing the same thing. Maybe I’ll just add some faux gold chains with a sideways baseball cap and embrace this as my new look.

Anyway, as it is Lent, I know that none of you want your minds sullied with base talk of weight loss, so I won’t burden you by telling you what I did that worked so well.

— 5 —

Just kidding. It’s too long of a story to explain in detail here, but the short-short version is that it was Perfect Health Diet + rethinking what a reasonable portion size looks like + accepting that spiritual warfare really does come into play with getting healthy + learning to depend on a good jog for an energy boost. What started it all was getting fed up with feeling awful all the time; I started optimizing my life around foods and exercises that would make me feel better and have energy, and the weight loss followed. (If anyone is looking for inspiration, I love Wellness Mama‘s outlook on food and fitness.)

— 6 —

I’ve been trying to figure out how to con Vatican astronomer Br. Guy Consolmagno into chatting with me at the conference this weekend. I had decided to corner him after his talk and emphasize what we have in common: He is a Ph.D. who’s studied at MIT and the Harvard Observatory, who taught physics in Kenya with the Peace Corps, has an asteroid named after him, is now the curator of the Vatican’s enormous meteorite collection, and has a blog called Cosmic Diary. So, yeah. We pretty much have the exact same life. If you look past the surface-level stuff you see that we both have blogs that begin with C and end in Diary. Therefore, I am going to suggest that we walk around the conference making inside jokes and referring to ourselves as the “CD” bloggers.

On the off chance that angle only leads to a horrifically awkward moment, I should bring this too:

It’s a special meteorite-like thing that was given to me by an astronomer friend of my dad’s. It’s a piece of ejecta from a large meteor impact; it was blasted out into the edge of space then fell back to earth, hence its teardrop shape. It was found near the Caribbean, and may have been a result of the meteor that created the Chicxulub crater. As soon as I find a word to describe this rock other than “meteorite thing” and figure out how to pronounce Chicxulub, I’ll be all set to astound Br. Consolmagno with my astrophysics credentials!

— 7 —

If you’re looking for some powerful Lenten reading, don’t miss this post by Fr. Dwight Longenecker called Reasons for Renunciation. He writes:

If you just once give up everything for the Lord Christ you will never again be in chains. If you walk away from everything–just once in your life — you will be able to do it again.

Do read the whole thing. It’s excellent.



  1. Emily

    Congrats on losing that much weight! That’s impressive!
    I tried on some of my shorts before my Arizona trip and they were all too big! I was amazed. And no, not everyone gets the pleasure of walking around in shorts all day.. in fact, I am quite jealous!

  2. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I love going to conferences! I had such a wonderful time in Vancouver recently geeking out at the annual meeting for the American Association for Advancement in the Sciences. Now if only it were acceptable to cosplay at places besides ComicCon.

  3. Kathy

    I’ve been noticing the loneliness of modern life a lot, lately. It seems like nearly everyone is content with very surface-y relationships. It’s so hard to find someone who really wants to talk and is willing to put some time into a friendship. Everyone’s so busy with their 217 “friends” on Facebook or their hectic schedule, that they can’t seem to breathe, much less be friendly with their actual neighbors.

    I wonder if some of the problem is that most of us live packed into cities and suburbs, so that we deal with all the people by sort of ignoring everyone outside our house?

  4. kate

    I’ve been working on the weight loss battle the last 2 years. The battle hasn’t so much been weight, it’s been spiritual. Every time I take 2 steps forward it seems that I’m hit with huge discouragement and I take 2 more steps back and I’m in the same place i started. I finally put it together this last 6 months that 80% of what is going on is spiritual. I appreciate your perspective and the link to that other website.
    Having other women point out that it is spiritual battle for them is hugely encouraging to me. thank you.

  5. Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    I would love to make an effort to attend a writing conference when I get back to the states. Enjoy your time there. And woo hoo on the weight loss. I’ve gained and lost 40 pounds three times, and now that I’m finally done being pregnant my wardrobe is a lot smaller. I just keep what I actually *wear* and what *fits* . . . novel concept, I know.

  6. Dorian Speed

    I was excited to see via Brother Guy’s website that he would soon be speaking in the Houston area. Then I realized the post was from 2009. Once y’all have bonded, please guide him back to more productive uses of his time, like updating his blog.

  7. The Licensed Fool

    Thanks for #7. That is a great quote and a good article. I hope the conference goes well.

  8. George @ Convert Journal

    #3 reminded me of when we lived in NYC for a few years. So many people all together yet many seemed lonely. The online world gives them safe, no commitment connection to others but it is a very weak connection.

    My entry this week… A good video explains Obama’s HHS mandate. How individual mandates destroy centuries of contract law and abolish the notion of limited government. The Becket Fund counters 4 myths about the HHS mandate with the truth. The Knights of Columbus Presidents’ Day video. Greece will soon go down in flames; how are we doing? A logical extension of abortion, ethicists say post-birth abortion OK. The UK’s version of Planned Parenthood.

  9. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    I read an article recently about research on how social skills were headed downhill because people spent so much time in the virtual world that they have lost the art of interpreting non-verbal communication. My thought: maybe this will level the playing field, so that everyone feels as awkward as introverts in social situations?

    Or maybe not. Have fun at your conference.

  10. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I just got back from my first offline conference with online friends, and now I totally get #2. Have a great time this weekend!

    Thanks for the scoop on the Perfect Health Diet. (I love Wellness Mama–good stuff there!) And hurray for baggy jeans and slouchy shirts–or at least the reason behind them.

  11. Theresa in Alberta

    I am so sorry about yer wardrobe eh! 😉 2 words, thrift stores!!!! Bargains bargains bargain galore. Take the time so you can browse the racks, find those big labels clothing items that fit, bring’em home and throw’em in the washer and dryer, wear’em and no one will know you didnot pay mega $’s when you wear’em.

  12. Colleen

    Congrats on the weight loss…that takes a lot of dedication and hard work! I was just reading about the Perfect Health Diet, and do you do a 24 hour fast every week? If so, how do you manage that? Like what hours do you choose?

  13. Patty

    I wish I was going to the conference in Denvee! I live in the Washington DC area and you would be surprised at how few good conferences there are for Catholics!

  14. Diapeepees

    THe MC Hammer part was the best.

  15. Maria

    Our family loves astronomy, and I’m just drooling at the thought of you possibly meeting Vatican astronomer Br. Guy Consolomagno.


  16. Kara

    I’m having the same problem with clothes!! I bought some pants and I blamed the pants for “stretching out” when really, I think I just lost a bunch without trying. Breastfeeding is my weight loss plan!

    • nisha

      The Raspberry Pi is understood to run Linux Ubuntu and is powerful enough for use with some gaming.

  17. Andrea

    Thanks for recommending the Perfect Health Diet a few months ago. I read the book and started the diet, and I like it. I didn’t need to lose weight but just wanted to get the other health benefits. Once I wrapped my mind around the idea of giving up bread and eating more butter, it was easy to make the change. I am not a scientist, so I don’t know how an educated skeptic would respond to the book, but it was persuasive to me, especially the arguments for giving up grains and eating nutrient-dense foods like eggs.

  18. Stephanie

    Well they had 16-18 inches of snow yesterday in the mountains near Denver, so the chances of seeing snow are pretty high for your little one. 🙂 Plus they are forecasting some more today (of course that’s in the snow resorts area, but there’s also snow in Denver proper – I’m in Denver right now!).

  19. Ellen Gable Hrkach

    Congrats on the weight loss and lifestyle changes. Love #6. Hilarious! During my 7 Quick Takes, I shared that my gold medal winning, bestselling Catholic novel, In Name Only, is available FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon Kindle.

  20. Kayleen

    -6- Cracked me up! 🙂

    That piece of meteor, is it valuable? It looks like it might be! How heavy is it? There is a meteor at the science center and it is much heavier than it looks. Very cool that you have it!

  21. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond

    Thank you for recommending #7. I’d read it earlier this week and have been really thinking about it since. It is SO worth reading the whole thing!

    Congrats on the 25lbs and have a great trip. Will you make it through security with the meteor? LOL

  22. Karen

    I hope you come on down to SA in May for our conference! It’s going to be great.

  23. TRS

    Funny… you’re coming to Denver and I’m going to Houston (not the same as Austin, I know…. but still.

    Don’t get the little guy too excited about snow. We had some overnight, and it’s almost gone. But given that you are probably here right now, I stand corrected. Your boy saw and touched snow this morning, didn’t he?
    Too bad I didn’t know about the conference – It’ll be over before I get free time both today and tomorrow.

    Enjoy Denver! think about moving here. We don’t have scorpions, like, at all.

  24. TRS

    Oh… and I thought your meteor was a tiny avocado!

  25. Ashley

    After your recommendation, my husband and I read The Perfect Health Diet, and loved it. We’ve been eating that way for a few months now and love.

    As for #2 – I definitely agree. I’d love to go to a conference so that I can meet someone that has the same values.

  26. Kris, in New England

    I totally agree about the socialization thing. People are losing valuable interpersonal skills by communicating in person like they do on Twitter or via text message. I lost about 40 pounds 3 years ago and then promptly gained it all back when my personal life fell apart. Now that I am beyond that pain and feeling so content in my newfound Catholic faith, it’st time to get back on track and shed that weight … again.

  27. bobbi

    Safe travels and congratulations on the weight lose!! (Even though you now have the “Can’t Touch This” song stuck in my head.) 😉

  28. dweej

    I know everyone is going to get SO sick of hearing me say this, but you MUST start shopping at Goodwill (or other thrift store of your choice). There are real actual clothes there for, like, $2. Not $20. Just $2. It’s the only way to rebuild your saggy baggy pants wardrobe without making yourself cry for the starving children in Africa who could eat for a year for the amount of money that Ann Taylor tries to charge for a pair of pants.

  29. Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace

    Perhaps this would be way below you, but you could try Goodwill and a few consignment shops for clothes that actually fit you and your budget if you decide the b-boy look with the saggy butt pants and the baseball cap isn’t quite the impression you want to make 🙂

  30. Jane M

    #6 is a tektite. It is rather like obsidian in that it is really glass. People do still argue over whether it comes from the earth or the moon. Look up John Aloysius O’Keefe, NASA scientist, for some of the discussion. The problem that has never been solved in thinking that tektites come from an impact crater is – that Corning Glass Works says you can’t make that kind of glass quickly. An impact gets everything hot quickly and then it cools quickly. Enough of irrelevance. I’m so glad you are back.

    Jane M

  31. Jean

    I met Br.Guy through a friend last year…if I had known what a brain he was before we met, I would totally freaked out! But he is just a regular guy…quite funny and kind hearted.

  32. Kimberlie

    I hope you have a wonderful and enriching conference!

    Re #4: I lost 30lbs last year after discovering I was gluten intolerant and giving up gluten. I know the feeling of walking around in baggy clothes. I finally got some clothes that fit me as my sister passed down some of her “big” clothes to me as she’s now losing weight.

    #5: I lost weight last year when I went GF but lately I have been “stuck.” It occurred to me yesterday that when I first discovered I needed to eliminate gluten, I ate almost no bread because I didn’t like the GF bread options. However, in the last 6 months, I have discovered some good bread options and I’ve been eating more. I really don’t think I can embrace a completely grain-free diet as WellnessMama advocates, but I certainly need to get back to eating a lot less grains and more veggies, lean protein, and fruits.

    Praying for a safe trip for you and your family!

  33. L.W. Dickel

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What’s this shit I’ve been hearing about a human sacrifice for sins!!? Who in the goddamned hell came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!!? What are we, living in the goddamn Stone Age!!!?
    Blood sacrifice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you embarrass me with that disgusting, sickening, vile, evil, asinine pile of Cro-Magnon donkey shit!!!”–Jesus Christ, the Thinking Mans Gospel

    • Joni

      Very inappropriate.

  34. Kristin

    We were just talking about how different our household is from many we visit when it comes to dinner time. Even our children’s friends comment about how long it has been since they have sat together at a dinner table to eat.
    Much research has been done about the effects of missing out on this essential family time. I cherish it greatly, and I imagine, even when my children leave my home for their own homes one day, it will be something they will take with them.

  35. Joni

    I’ve been doing WeightWatchers, just doing the online thing, not the meetings, since last May, and I’ve been experiencing the same clothing crisis! My first mistake was buying cool weather clothes at the end of summer last year and having to return them because I shrunk out of them before the weather got cold enough to wear them! I love the feeling of more energy, it’s great isn’t it?

    Also, I loved the Reasons for Renunciation. Very thought provoking. I will re-read it many times. Thanks for the link.

  36. majellamom

    Loved your talk on Saturday at the conference. So encouraging – I was surprised by how interesting Br. Guy was to me – I come from a family of scientists, but I’ve always been more social science/liberal art-sy. It was worth the 3 1/2 hour drive to hear you speak, and Br. Guy and Justice Scalia were just icing on the cake!

  37. aimee cooper

    It was great to finally meet you at the conference, Jennifer! And you encouraged me so much, I finally wrote a new post. Hope to meet again sometime! God bless!

  38. nancyo

    I ordered the Perfect Health Diet book and will be interested to see how it compares to the Paleo diet that I’ve been following more and/or less for 2 years. I’m glad to hear of your increased energy and the concomitant weight loss.

  39. Smoochagator

    Congrats on the weight loss! Just in case you ever feel like you shouldn’t write about diet and exercise because it’s not a “spiritual enough” topic, let me tell you that every single on of your posts on this topic has GREATLY inspired and encouraged me. You’ve helped me understand that how we care for our bodies has huge repercussions in the health of our souls, and I can’t think of any “more spiritual” lesson.

  40. Evenimente Business

    Keep in mind once coming up with or choosing activities that the scholars ought to be those up at the board interacting with the content as they’re learning.

  41. no win no fee claims

    The day after our journey to the Swann Covered Bridge, we went back to Turkey Creek. I’d originally planned it for Monday

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates