Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | January 11, 2013


Leave it to a simple Facebook status update instead of a blog post to finally solve the mystery.

And… it’s okay to laugh at this, because it totally made me laugh…

The prayer I had forgotten is called “The Universal Prayer”. I mean. It just seems so obvious now.

Here it is, in case you’re interested. I’ve bolded the parts that really resonated with me when I was in college.

The Universal Prayer — Attributed to Pope Clement XI

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
And call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins
And to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
And to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love
All whose lives I touch,
Those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
And reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law,
And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
That life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death
With a proper fear of judgment,
But a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
To the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | January 9, 2013


I’m having one of those moments where a song has been on my mind for weeks, but I don’t remember the title of the song, who sings the song, or what most of the song was really even about.

Except it’s not about a song.

It’s a prayer.

A prayer that was in the back of the red missal at the Newman center on campus. And I used to read it (and mean it) whenever I went to daily or Sunday mass.

And the whole thing is now so elusive. I don’t remember the title of the prayer, I don’t remember most of the prayer—except that it was about following God’s will, I’ve forgotten the saint who wrote the prayer, and don’t even ask me what number the prayer was in the back of the missal. I’ve forgotten that, too.

It was sandwiched between The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi and The Prayer Before Mass. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. My mystery prayer that won’t leave my mind.

I don’t pray as much as I should these days, but this prayer has been on my mind for weeks. Something in me just won’t rest until I rediscover that prayer.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | January 6, 2013

Reflecting, 2013

It is good to be home, if only for the fact that I can finally sit down long enough to reflect on 2012 and think about what’s in store for 2013.

I learned long ago that resolutions don’t work for me, so I started coming up with a word or phrase that would resonate with me throughout the year. Let me put on my official hipster glasses, because I’ve noticed this year that it’s all the rage to have New Year Themes instead of resolutions. I was totally doing it before it was cool, you guys.

Let’s reflect.

2005: “Change” The usual post-high school What Am I Doing with My Life crisis.

2006: “Connections” New friends, new home, transferred to a new school, studied abroad.

2007: “Take Charge” Hardest school year, ever. But I learned to work through the tough times with a bit more grace than I had in the past.

2008: “Take adventures” I had graduated from college, moved to the northern suburbs of Chicago, realized I hated working in a greenhouse, and stayed in an unhappy relationship for far too long. In retrospect, 2008 was a pretty awful year.

2009: ”Rediscover” myself and my passions. I became a camp counselor for a nature program, and that really changed everything. I knew from then on that I was meant to be in environmental education.

2010: “Do More” Volunteered more, laughed more, loved more. Dated Chris. It was a great year, despite the grad school nonsense.

2011: “Shine” I had decided on this word of the year before Chris had proposed, so then it became a figurative and a literal meaning for the year.

2012: ”Magic” (“…watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl) Some DC adventures, getting married, going to the UK. Yup. 2012 was a year of magic.

2013: “Be Deliberate” At first I thought my word of the year was going to be “Action”, but I realized that not all action is good or what I need to be doing, so I’ve decided “Be Deliberate” would be my phrase for the year. I just need to be more focused on the choices I make. Being deliberate means I’ll let myself be on social media if that’s what I need for the moment, but I’ll have more balance. Everything with meaning and purpose. Less floundering, more life with intention.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | December 17, 2012

Making My Own Traditions

So I haven’t written here since September. Instead of playing catch up or awkwardly writing a post as if I’ve never been gone, here’s a great guest blog from Ashley. 

My name is Ashley and I blog at Writing To Reach You.  Erica asked me to write about establishing your own holiday traditions as you grow up and move away from home, which is something I think more and more about every year.  

I moved away from home more than six years ago.  The first several years, going home for the holidays was full of angst for me.  Not because my family is anything but lovely, but because my concept of home was changing in uncomfortable ways and it was strange to go from being an independent person back to being the youngest in a big family and the holidays are full of such high expectations.  I would take a deep breath every year before stepping on the plane in California to fly up to Washington.  In those years, I would cling to holiday traditions, and feel frustrated and even hurt when they weren’t upheld.

My family is not big on tradition and really never has been.  I’m not either, in most cases, but I discovered when I moved away from home that holiday traditions are important to me.  I love living on my own in a strange state.  I have plans to live all over the world.  I’m not even bothered that my hometown is always changing. And I don’t take a deep breath before stepping on the plane to fly home to Washington anymore.  But I want to spend Christmas Eve eating terrible junk food with my dad, brother, and sister, and I want everyone to be there on Christmas morning, so we can eat cinnamon rolls and open presents, and I don’t care if we have tacos or lasagna or ham, but I want there to be a Christmas dinner, and I want us to play board games afterwards.  Everything in my life can change, but I want just these few things to stay the same.  They’re important to me.

Most broken traditions I have just let slide.  Things change, and I understand that.  The traditions are not as important to other members of my family, because they aren’t as sensitive as I am or they didn’t move so far away from home or now they have families of their own.  I have been treating these as the Awkward Homeless Years–the space between being a kid and developing traditions of your own.

After a couple years of that, though, I realized I could keep being angsty and sad about broken traditions or I could start being proactive.  I always felt a bit silly and childish saying that actually this stuff does mean a lot to me, but one year my mom said something about not getting a tree because of her allergies, and that was just too much for me.  I said that I didn’t care if we got a fake tree or just decorated a floor lamp, but I needed something with lights and ornaments on it.  My mom was surprised, because she had no idea any of this mattered to me. I had maybe sort of kind of never mentioned it.  I still don’t hold onto every single tradition, but I have gotten better at saying which ones matter to me, and seeing that we uphold them when possible.

Only in the last year have I thought about creating my own traditions.  I guess in the Awkward Homeless Years, I thought I needed to have a family before it made sense to start in with traditions.  I also thought that traditions had to spring up naturally.  I realize now that I can start my own traditions and they don’t have to appear in my life like magic.  I have my own little tree now that I enjoy before I fly home for Christmas.  This year, I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to run a Turkey Trot and had a lot of fun.  I’m thinking of little things I can start with friends.  I like that my traditions can be whatever I want, and I can try different things out to see what I find meaningful.  I’m responsible for keeping them going, but I also don’t have to depend exclusively on other people for the comfort I get from holiday traditions.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | September 8, 2012

Adulthood. How Did I Get Here?

The Pros


  • Established network in the informal education field
  • Way more affordable than DC
  • Close to several friends
  • Two-hour drive to visit my parents
  • Lake Michigan
  • I actually love the El
  • Chicago food. Enough said.


  • Chris likes it here
  • The monuments are pretty. . .
  • National Zoo and other Smithsonian institutions
  • Proximity to so many beautiful parks and other great cities
  • Super high chance of getting a job. I can’t go into much detail here. But this is the thing that’s causing my anxiety.

The Cons


  • Expense to move back to the Midwest won’t be pretty
  • My experience with AT&T reception sucked, and I don’t plan on changing my carrier because that’s another huge cost
  • Super competitive job market


  • Higher cost of living
  • Oh, God. The traffic. I hate driving here.
  • Unpopular opinion: the metro is my least favorite public transportation I’ve used
  • Away from friends, family
  • The emotional effort it takes to try to make new friends
  • We’d still have to eventually move out of this apartment because it is getting increasingly more expensive 

Do I stay to finally have a job that’s been what I’ve wanted (full-time, nature-based. . .), or do I stick it out and try to find my way back to Chicago? Either way, it still means Chris will have to find his own job in either city, too. If we stay, it means finally having a big girl job, but it also means staying out here for at least a few more years. The thought of emotionally putting myself out there to make friends and to learn to love DC is daunting. But maybe I’m being too safe? Chicago is my comfort zone. It’s the easy decision. 

But sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy. 

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | June 6, 2012

June 2, 2012

A year and a half was spent planning those 24 hours and they flew by quicker than any other day has ever gone.

It was the perfect day surrounded by friends and family. I waited and waited and waited for that moment where Dad would finally knock on the door to tell me it was time to walk down the aisle.

I was, literally, a bouncing bride as I took Chris’s hands to say our vows. There was some singing and prayers and readings, and a wonderful homily (ask me about how Father John thinks we will apparently have, like, twelve babies). And then—in a flash—it was time to walk back down the aisle. Only this time I had a husband and I was a wife. 

There was the moment where I raced up to stand on the University of Illinois’s Alma Mater statue before the phrase, “Let’s see if we can get up there” was even really out of my photographer’s mouth.

There were the moments where it started to rain, but I danced and skipped my way through the sidewalks of campus without a care in the world. There were hugs and laughter and three glasses of champagne in the limo and 1,597 Facebook notifications (and my maid-of-honor lovingly forcing me to put away my phone). 

There was me, racing down the field at Memorial Stadium, with my husband beside me while we waved to our friends and family waiting at the reception. 

There was love. I can’t imagine there ever being another day that could top the amount of love that was present in my life on June 2, 2012. 

There was my dad, giving a speech from his autodealer’s shop notepad with tears in his eyes. And then there was our father-daughter dance where we skipped the routine sappiness and threw on a baseball cap and sunglasses while we danced to Joe Walsh and R.E.M.

And Chris and I danced to Shine by Rosi Golan and I honestly had one of those moments where the rest of the world disappeared and all that remained was Chris and me and the lyrics to that song.

There were old friends and new friends. Family that means the world to me, and me brushing off the fact that my own brother wasn’t there.

There were, of course, the people who took full advantage of the open bar. The stories that happened because of this would come out during breakfast the next day.

This was all there. And more memories pop into my mind as the days go by. All of it came together so seamlessly. It was the happiest day I’ve ever had.

Admittedly, I find myself mourning the fact that the wedding day is over. Today I rushed around town changing my name at the social security office, updating my driver’s license, and getting my passport photo taken.

That’s when it hit me: It’s only just beginning.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | April 30, 2012

Unforgettable Fun

“We are a simple family. We aren’t doctors, lawyers, or politicians. It’s your wedding day, and we want it to be beautiful. But we will celebrate our way, and it will be fun. We aren’t trying to impress anyone on Park Avenue. When I married your mom, we just got a bunch of kegs and went to the hotel. We didn’t have a DJ, a band, or anything. We just had a lot of fun. That’s all that we want for you.”

-My Dad to me tonight

This came out of a conversation about hors d’oeuvres and the fact that our reception venue has the nerve to charge $4 per person per item. $600 for some cubed cheese and crackers? I hope it’s colby jack covered in crystal. Seriously.

Dad also told me the story of how he complained and whined about the $29 he had to spend to borrow the tux to take my mom to prom. This is a far cry from what the guys will have to spend on their tuxes. Sigh.

All I want is to have a day of unforgettable fun with my best friend. And that’s how I’ve been able to get through wedding planning. I’ve been asking myself, “What will make it fun? What really matters to us on the wedding day? Will not getting x/y/x affect whether or not we walk away on June 2nd as a married couple?” This perspective has helped us avoid so many roadblocks in our planning.

Thirty-three days until I marry my best friend and have a day of unforgettable fun.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | April 24, 2012

We all live ordinary average lives

I wish I had a picture of the basement at my parents’ house, because when I say that it’s stuck in the 70s, I hope you can imagine it in every way possible. I’m talking about wood paneling, popcorn ceiling (with sparkles!), a giant plaid pull-out sofa, and patterned carpet in shades of yellow and green.

Did the term “man cave” exist in the early 90s? I’m not sure. Maybe my family invented the term. There was (and still is) a fully-stocked bar, a pool table, Dad’s stereo, and shelves upon shelves of his records. Dad lined part of the wall with photos of cars and Dale Earnhardt posters.

As a child, I remember that some of my favorite evenings were spent dancing (read: running and hopping) around the pool table while Dad played his records. He’d dance and sing with me while we ate pizza and giggled at each other the way a little girl and her father so often do.

In 1991, I was five years old. I don’t know what most five-year-olds should really be listening to, but 1991 was a good year for music in the Anomaly household. For example:

  • “Out of Time” was released by R.E.M.
  • Into the Great Wide Open hit the charts that July
  • Joe Walsh released “Ordinary Average Guy”

Of course, we still listened to a lot of other records, but I mostly remember “Ordinary Average Guy” and “Shiny Happy People”.

The point of this post is that Dad and I have been struggling to finalize this whole “Daddy-Daughter” dance thing, and all I really can picture is Dad and me bobbing around to these old songs. Somebody might as well put a pool table in the middle of the dance floor and blast some Joe Walsh.

Also, I will never not giggle at a song that mentions dog doo.

I am responsible for snack prep and records at my organization. With food donated to our organization from a local food bank I can create a quick meal for 40 children from immigrant, refugee, and low-income families (Thanks, Mr. Obama).

Some days it’s pretty basic: peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a cup of applesauce, carrots, and milk.

Sometimes it’s kind of exciting: macaroni and cheese! chicken nuggets! tacos!

But there are times where the food bank’s resources are sporadic. We’ve had a surplus of trail mix and an abundance of fruit cups lately. Yawn. We never really know if this is the only meal a child might receive in the evening. So sometimes I have to be creative.

We’ve had some frozen chicken breasts in the freezer for a few weeks, but prepping chicken for 40 kids is time-consuming. I don’t always have that time. So the chicken sat in freezer waiting for the right opportunity.

Today was the day.

I boiled and shredded the chicken. In the back of the snack room cabinet, I discovered a lone bag of brown rice. Perfect; it was added to the chicken. Next, I grabbed three jars of salsa leftover from our last “Taco Tuesday”. I tossed in the salsa along with some broccoli left from last week, and corn. I sprinkled in some cheese. I baked that baby until it was piping hot and ready to go.

Every. Kid. Ate. It.

I had girls asking for the recipe, coworkers raving about it, and BOYS WHO ATE THE BROCCOLI.

It was a wonderful feeling. A fleeting moment that I will cherish.

But tonight, since Chris is gone, I will make a frozen lasagna and relax on the couch. And that’s okay. Because I know 40 kids had something delicious and healthy today.

Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | November 20, 2011

Hold me.

We’ve hit that point in wedding planning where ALL THE THINGS seem to need to be accomplished all at once.

We really should send out save-the-dates soon, but before we do that we need to make sure the wedding website is ready to go (otherwise it’d be pointless to direct our guests to a defunct website).

We also need to make sure we get all the addresses for our guests, but CRAP, we need to get that stupid list finalized by our family before they try to add the retired principal from the first school Mom taught at or before his dad tries to invite the entire staff of his medical clinic.

BUT before the website can really go live, we need to fill out our registry, which is really just about the most overwhelming thing.

This weekend was spent updating the website, filling out the registry, and designing our save-the-dates.

And also spending three hours in an urgent care clinic in order to be diagnosed with acute bronchitis. Thanks, germy little kids. You are the future of the world.

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