Profile in the Gap: Marie Kelly

Profiles in the Gap

Marie Kelly

Image

Marie Kelly is an accountant who lives and works in Northern Virginia.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

For me, “expect” is the wrong word. Since I have never been technically part of a couple, I have been in a season of singleness for a long time that I did think would end earlier. I am glad it isn’t over quite yet, if I am honest.

When I was 7, my teacher asked her class to draw a picture of what they would like to be when they grew up. My understanding of that question was framed in a vocational reference by my parents. I only knew 3 options: marriage, single life or religious life. I thought through the 3 options for the first time ever, reasoning that marriage didn’t look fun. I knew nothing about singleness so that left only one option: I drew a picture of a nun in her Dominican habit. When the rest of my class showed off their pictures of firemen and ballerinas I realized I felt gypped! I didn’t know those were options since I understood the question differently.

In high school, my angst centered around desire for freedom and independence. I longed to make my own decisions, go where I wanted and explore the world on my own. My time as a single has afforded me those opportunities. I have grown deeply as a person these years and now have accumulated both knowledge and wisdom to share. As a teen, I hoped to avoid being “trapped” by marriage too soon. Often, this struggle seems unique to my experience.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Yes to both! I selected accounting early on for its unique match of my interests and abilities before I ever knew what accounting entailed. Although I struggled at jobs where I found little purpose in my work, I find great meaning in working for the Church as an accountant. I love being a Catholic accountant. It’s such a unique skill set I can offer in a ministry setting. Often I feel I am helping serve Christ’s physical needs through proper stewardship of donated resources. I feel my job is on the pulse of the Church, as I see the lifeblood of ministry flow through my desk. I love it.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook as a single young adult?

Faith is crucial to me. Without Christ sustaining me day in and day out, my walk would be unbearable. It is so easy to compare, become bitter, just not have a light to offer the world without Jesus. I am very at peace with where God has me today. I passed the 30 milestone and life continued. I see God’s Providential care for me each day. I know He loves me. When He needs me to serve Him in a vocation of love, He will give me the graces for that time of my life. Until then, today is enough.

Advertisements

Chivalry and the single girl

This blog post from James Michael Shama, founder of the New Chivalry Movement (an endeavor I applaud whole-heartedly) has been making the rounds on my Facebook feed over the past few weeks. It’s  great to see advice from one young man to another on being a gentleman. As a woman who spent most workday evenings standing on the DC metro during my four years commuting, while plenty of young, healthy men sat and stared at their phones, I’ve certainly experience firsthand that a good discussion on chivalry is long overdue, especially for my generation.

chivalry-01

I appreciate Mr. Shama’s work and I realize he’s speaking largely about relationships and how men ought to treat women within them. Still, as a single woman, I’d also like to remind the gentlemen of this world that chivalry is not limited to the woman you’re romantically interested in. Sure, hold the door for the girl you like and pull out your date’s chair at the table, but chivalry isn’t about scoring points with your girlfriend. It’s about honoring and respecting those more vulnerable than you, which means quite simply there’s not always something in it for you.

More than once I’ve been left in the proverbial cold while men went out of their way to impress my girlfriends with their chivalry. I’m well aware when a man is pursuing my friend, and I know just about every man in my acquaintance currently is only interested in me on the platonic level. I play the best friend role a lot, believe me, and I know how to be a third wheel.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes. As just one example among a few, several years ago a guy opened a door for my friend, then walked in after her himself and closed it on me–even though we were all walking together. I remember standing there staring at the closed door for a full minute, blinking in bewilderment. Apparently not being a romantic interest meant I wasn’t worth respecting at all. There’s not gentle way to put this: that hurt. It still hurts, in fact, even though it seems like such a small deal, and it happened so long ago.

We single women develop a thick skin to rebuffs like that. Over time we come to expect them. We twist the painful experiences into cynical jokes and snide “funny” stories so they don’t sting quite as much, but the pain of being unnoticed and unlooked-for is very real. Men, do you want to be truly chivalrous? Take the time to perform a random act of gentlemanliness for a woman you’re not romantically interested in. It shouldn’t be a romantic act (you don’t want to send the wrong signal), but just affirming her womanhood means the world — even if she’s used to being cynical and not quite sure how to take it.

AdamAndEve_Garden_Lucas_Cranach_0I often return to that scene in the Garden of Eden, when Adam awoke and saw the woman for the first time. His response was one of wonder and delight; he affirmed the woman as a woman, and that affirmation was her delight. Each of us women is that first woman, and each of us longs to be seen and affirmed, even the most cynical and thick-skinned of us. All it takes is a small act of chivalry, like holding a door or vacating a metro seat, to say, “I affirm you as a woman. Not a potential girlfriend or someone I really want to impress, but as a woman in your own right, even if I never see you again.”

In its ideal form, that’s what chivalry should be all about: affirming the value and worth of the other person, no strings attached.

–Mabel

I’m in training

Is it just DC where every activity has to be carried to an absurd level of competition? I have recently begun training (I use the word “training” with just a hint of irony, since I have no idea what I’m doing…) for a 10k race in May, and the subculture of running I’ve stumbled upon amazes and frightens me. I was always dimly aware of this culture, but I had no idea how pervasive it really is. It seems everyone is a runner, or has been a runner, or plans to be a runner in another six months.

Of course, I’m in full support of a healthy habit, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also a wee bit embarrassed. Well-meaning friends have offered to train with me, and even more well-meaning housemates are offering me tips and advice on getting into the most optimal shape. People talk about their “slow” 10k finishes of 50 minutes, and I cringe. I’m a stubborn 10-minute miler and I don’t see that changing any time between now and May 17. I’ll be lucky if I can run a full 6.2 miles without dying, so speed is not at the top of my list of priorities.

I had to use this meme.

I had to use this meme.

 

But it gets worse. I don’t even know how to look like a runner. I’m realizing there’s a whole fashion code to working out, and somehow I completely missed the trend on that one. I see them all the time here in metro DC, the svelte, spandex-clad paragons of modern virtue racing down the sidewalk in their neon-colored shoes, earbud cords flashing white against their North Face and Lululemon jackets. I’m pretty sure they don’t even sweat.

Is there nowhere in life that "poorly dressed" is an acceptable standard?

Is there nowhere in life that “poorly dressed” is an acceptable standard?

Me? I’m huffing along in year-old cross trainers, sweatpants, and oversized T-shirts from countless volunteer functions over the years, with my hair flying in just about every direction and inevitably getting in my mouth. And my nose always runs. Always. Does anyone else have a runny nose running problem, or is that just me?

In all seriousness, this endeavor is proving to be an excellent opportunity to exercise not just discipline, but humility. No, I’m not the best runner out there — far, far from it. No, I don’t really even look like much of a runner. Honestly, I’m sure most people don’t notice; and those few over-achiever females who do bother to pay attention to what I wear can pat themselves on the back for looking better in their designer workout gear. No, I’ll never be fast, and yes, I’ll probably be finishing this race last, but by golly I’ll be in better shape than I was at the beginning of the year. And when it’s all over, I can say I ran a 10k.

So…I’m calling this a win. And if you’re working towards a 40-minute 10k anytime between now and June, know that I hate you and I don’t want to talk about it.

-Mabel

Profile in the Gap: Blanca Therese Morales

Profiles in the Gap
Blanca Therese Morales
 dsc_0542-7
Blanca Therese Morales is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Check out her blog! Also, be on the lookout for her to appear in EWTN’s new series, “Extraordinary Faith.” She’ll be featured with some friends in an episode later this spring. 
I had always expected to be married by my early twenties. I knew many women who had married out of college, becoming stay-at-home moms in a nice little towns. It always seemed ideal.  However, God had other plans for me.
Since marriage was not to be had, I planned a glittering career in broadcast media. I saw myself living a glamorous life in either California or New York, rubbing elbows with celebrities, attending VIP events and feeling “free” of commitment or obligations.
But God got to me before any of this took place. He let me see that a life without Him would have no meaning, no purpose and no merit. I decided to offer my future plans to him, including marriage. From that point on, every decision had to include Him. I would live my life for Him.
As I offered up a career on TV, God offered me a better career alternative: writing. I had always liked creative writing but never saw myself working as a writer. God led me to news writing and photojournalism, where I learned to hone this skill through experience.
While I had never planned this for myself, God knew what He was doing. This new path helped me to grow so much as a person, and also as a Christian.
I now see that this season of singleness was a blessing in disguise. I have been able to do things I would not have been otherwise been able to do, had I done things according to my own plan. I have had the time to travel, go on pilgrimages, have a career I enjoy, attend retreats, and to learn and grow in so many ways.
God has humored me even further, by letting me go in front of the camera as I had originally planned, except this time the opportunity came not to give myself glory, but to speak about the things that give Him glory.

Breaking the spell

Being single for so many years, I’ve gotten pretty used to being unseen. Saying I’ve gotten used to it doesn’t mean I like it, or even that I’ve accepted it, but I’ve developed a comfortable routine that takes my own invisibility for granted. 

Perhaps other singles can relate: It’s unsettling to discover you’re not as invisible as you think you are. That despite the constant, nagging sense of being unknown and unlooked-for, you’re still capable of being observed. This fact has startled me a number of times in the past year. After a good decade of feeling trapped in invisibility, I’m discovering I’m not as unseen as I thought. Some stranger will make an unexpected observation, an acquaintance will remark on a peculiar trait, a closer friend or mentor will point out some flaw, and I’m left feeling at once exposed and a little ridiculous. 

When did the invisibility I thought I hated become a crutch? I’ve railed against it for years, whether as a wallflower at school dances, as the “sweet, quiet girl” at the office, or as the introverted friend and roommate. I’ve spent many a long night after a party or social event, sitting on the edge of my bed and grappling with it into the wee hours of the morning. Yet now when the veil gets torn back for a brief moment, I recoil.  

Why can’t we move forward in life–and in love–without some lifting of the veil? I guess it all comes back to my least favorite word: vulnerability. We must be seen in order to be loved, and that means not just the pleasant parts we like to show off before company, but the ugly parts also. Yes, I have character defects, loads of them. As long as I’m invisible, though, I can keep them (mostly) to myself. To be visible  automatically requires some level of vulnerability, but it’s the only way to be loved. 

And I suspect that ultimately, it’s not entirely unpleasant. There’s relief in being seen, recognized, and even (sometimes) accepted. Maybe the genuine encounter with the other is worth the initial discomfort of exposure. Maybe love really does smash through our carefully constructed barriers and make us new and whole in spite of ourselves.