#1. Prove yourself wrong.

When I decided to start my Confidence Project, I did a bit of market research from several bloggers and YouTubers that I enjoy to hear what they had to say about confidence.

Granted, many of these voices are Christian or Catholic ones, so most of their advice comes from scripture and is more big-picture focused: “Know that your value comes from God.” “Trust in the Lord and rely not on your own understanding.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And so on and so forth.

On the other hand, I was also getting big-picture advice from more secular, mainstream voices: “Fake it till you make it.” “Ignore the haters.” “What’s wrong with being, what’s wrong with being, what’s wrong with being confident?” (Thanks Demi Lovato.)

I’m not saying this advice isn’t well-meaning. My thoughts on these maxims could make a whole other post. However, when I have tried to follow this advice, it has always escaped me when I needed it the most. In moments when I’m overwhelmed by a world that values me based on my relationship status and my salary, it’s difficult to believe that my worth is found in God alone. When I feel immense pressure to please everyone else, I can’t bring myself to ignore the haters.

What I needed was a list of action-oriented, concrete, and practical rules in order to battle against the waves of insecurity and self-doubt in the moment. I called them my Golden Rules of Confidence. I didn’t want to make an arbitrary list at the beginning of the year and try to apply it to the rest of the year. I wanted this list to be a compilation of truths I discovered along the way.

Little-known fact about me: I have a Ph.D. in Self-Criticism. I’m sure many of you can relate. To be fair, examining your conscience is a good skill to have, but constant negative self-talk has no place in authentic confidence.

Recently, during a stressful day at work, I found myself falling down the negativity black hole when suddenly, the First Golden Rule came to me: Prove yourself wrong.

When people talk about the negative voice in your head, that voice often uses “you”: You are stupid. You are ugly. You’re a failure. When the negative voice in my head talks, it uses “I”: I am stupid. I am ugly. I am a failure. I realized that in order to overcome my self-criticism habits, I didn’t need to prove myself to other people, I needed to prove myself to myself.

I wrote my First Golden Rule on a post-it and stuck it to my work laptop. Seeing that note every day has made a huge difference. I used to get so overwhelmed with feeling that I would never get all my work done that I gave up before I began. Now when I think, “I’ll never get all this done!” I immediately say, “Prove yourself wrong.” And my work gets done! Even if I don’t cross everything off my to-do list, I feel so much more confident at the end of the day.

This Golden Rule also works when I make excuses for not doing something I should be doing. “I’m too tired to wake up now.” “I’m too busy to go to Mass today.” “It’s too late, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Prove. Yourself. Wrong.

I encourage you to try out this Golden Rule for yourself. Let me know how it goes for you. I’m no confidence expert, but a well-meaning blogger trying to figure it out.

Prove yourself wrong. It’s easier than you think.

À bientôt!

Vicky

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Why I Get Excited About Lent

Many self-improvement programs feature a 30-day challenge (30 days of fitness, clean eating, life organization, you name it.)

I myself am in the midst of a 40-day challenge, the same one I do every year. It’s called Lent.

Growing up Catholic, Lent was generally seen as a dreaded period of depravity. Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, as you prefer) was usually celebrated in my family by a trip to Wendy’s to stuff our faces with burgers and Frostys before the long 40 days of meatless Fridays and no chocolate. As a kid, you were pressured to “give up” something you loved for Lent, and there was always that one smart aleck in your CCD class who boldly declared he was giving up school for Lent.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to understand that Lent is just as much about what you add as what you subtract.

My first serious foray into doing something extra for Lent was my senior year of college, when I followed the 40-day devotional outlined in Katherine Becker’s book, “The Dating Fast.” (For my blog series on this book, click here.) Though I didn’t know it at the time, this book laid the groundwork for my hunger to learn more about the Catholic faith, and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in particular. And it all began with me following my God-given curiousity and typing “dating fast” into Google! Granted, I still have a loooooooooooooooooooong way to go in my discovery of TOB. However, without that “little something extra” for Lent, I wouldn’t have started on the journey.

Lent is not the end. It is the beginning of renewal, of conversion, of realizing more fully our God-given potential for greatness.

This year, I found myself less excited for Mardi Gras and more excited for Ash Wednesday, or as I like to call it, Catholic Awareness Day. I had my Lenten sacrifices and “somethings extra” all planned out, and I was so ready for the challenge. More than anything, I was excited to see what kind of person God could mold me into in 40 days. Instead of looking at Lent as a miserable period of depravity, I felt like someone about to start Whole30 or P90X. What could I, by God’s grace working in me, become in just 40 days?

Some of you reading this post may be thinking, “That’s great, Vicky, but Lent is more than halfway over. And I’ve already caved and ate a huge piece of chocolate cake yesterday.” All I have to say is that Lent isn’t over yet. Remember that talk we had about New Year’s Resolutions? The same applies to Lent. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to try again.

If you can’t get into the spirit of the season, think of the last three weeks of Lent as an extra challenge. Get back on track with the goals you made on Ash Wednesday. Maybe set a new goal for yourself, even something small, like doing one random act of kindness every day. These next three weeks are Catholic crunch time, preparing for the most glorious celebration of our Church year: Easter Sunday!

Are you in? I’m in.

À bientôt!

– Vicky

Rethinking The New Year’s Resolution

Bonjour, mes amis!

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to post on this blog every Friday.

Clearly, that hasn’t happened. I apologize for that. I’m not very good at keeping resolutions in general. But on the upside, I don’t think I’m alone.

Making a New Year’s resolution is founded on a great idea: looking forward to the coming year, and trying to be a better, kinder, healthier, more organized person. However, we seem to have entered into a sad mindset where resolutions can only be made at the beginning of the year, and if they’re broken after two weeks, one week or even a few days, it’s over. We’ve failed. We’ll try again next year.

When did we start giving up on ourselves so quickly? When did we get the idea that we only had one shot to get our New Year’s resolution right, and not a whole 12 months of trial and error?

Making big life changes is difficult. There’s a period of adjustment, when we’re still figuring things out. We forget, we get lazy, we say we’ll start over tomorrow. And we see this as complete, total, unredeemable failure.

The more I thought about my own New Year’s resolutions and my successful and not-so-successful attempts at fulfilling them, the more I realized that I was putting the focus on the wrong thing. These resolutions or tasks I wanted to complete in 2016 were merely stepping stones that directed me to an area of my life that I wanted to improve upon.

For example, I am the worst at responding to messages: text, Facebook, email, snail mail, passenger pigeon, you name it. I read the message, mentally process the information, and then never respond. My thoughtlessness has received several well-meaning complaints from friends and family, and this is not something I want to carry into my professional life. Therefore, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to respond to every short message within 8 hours, and every longer message within 24 hours. Side note: I avoid answering personal messages at work, but any work-related message deserves an immediate response.

This month, I’ve had some success with this resolution, but many, many failures. My ultimate goal is not to get better at responding to messages, because I honestly find writing messages really stressful and time-consuming, like every sentence that I send out into the universe has to be perfect. Crazy writer, I know. However, I deeply value my relationships with others, personal and professional, so if answering people’s messages in a timely manner makes them feel valued, respected and loved, it’s so worth the minor stress and little time taken. My ultimate goal with this resolution is to be a more trustworthy and reliable person, and to mend any rifts in my relationships that I’ve caused by not responding to messages. 

If you’ve been struggling to keep your New Year’s resolution(s), whatever it is, don’t give up on yourself. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what your ultimate goal is. Maybe you want to lose weight because you know it will avoid future health problems. Maybe you want to spend more time in prayer because you want to become a more peaceful and holy person. Don’t look at your resolution as a task to be accomplished, but as a small step toward becoming the best version of yourself.

So what’s my ultimate goal with posting on this blog every week? To sharpen my skills as a writer, and most of all, to connect with you — my wonderfully patient and supportive readers. Thank you for following me on this journey, even when I fall short. In the words of JJ Heller, “Let’s fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the light, and make this year the best one yet … starting right here, Happy New Year!

À la prochaine!

– Vicky

Question of the Week: Share your New Year’s resolutions with me in the comments! Let’s hold each other accountable. 🙂

 

 

 

Hundred Word Review: “The Cupcake Queen” by Heather Hepler

Challenge No. 6: A Book From an Author You Love But Haven’t Read Yet

“The Cupcake Queen,” by Heather Hepler, finished May 26. Hepler co-wrote one of my all-time favorite YA novels, “Scrambled Eggs at Midnight,” with Brad Barkley, and I was so excited to read her first solo novel. Also, who doesn’t want to read a book about cupcakes?!

cupcakequeen

Hundred Word Review: Penny is dragged along when her mother returns to her small hometown and opens a cupcake shop, leaving Penny’s father and Manhattan behind. In between cake decorating and homesickness, Penny makes new friends, daydreams about the enigmatic boy in her art class, and becomes the target of the class mean girl’s vendetta. This coming-of-age novel reminds me of, well, a cupcake. Your adult brain says you’re too old to enjoy it; however, after one bite, you realize it has substance and sweetness, sass and sincerity. Fourteen-year-old me would love this book; for twenty-three-year-old me, it satisfied her literary sweet tooth.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Also, for a sneak peek at upcoming Hundred Word Reviews, click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Next up … we shall see!

Happy reading!

-Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Lady in Waiting” by Jackie Kendall

Challenge No. 5: A Nonfiction Book

“Lady in Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting for Mr. Right,” by Jackie Kendall with Debby Jones, finished May 20. My first foray into Christian “chastity books.”

Lady_In_Waiting_FINAL_Front_cover

Hundred Word Review: In this updated edition of her 1997 bestselling book, Christian speaker Jackie Kendall uses the biblical story of Ruth to discuss 10 qualities single women should develop before meeting their “Boaz,” or future husbands. The message is clear, and Kendall’s analysis of the Book of Ruth is helpful in providing historical and cultural context. However, the writing is clunky. Kendall is the prominent narrator, but sometimes, the writer will say, “I (Jackie),” as if Jones was speaking and the pen was handed back. I would have liked the message better as a chastity talk rather than an awkwardly written book.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Also, for a sneak peek at upcoming Hundred Word Reviews, click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Next up, “a book from an author you love but haven’t read yet.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

Hundred Word Reviews: “Confessions” by Saint Augustine

Challenge No. 3: A Book with A One-Word Title

“Confessions” by Saint Augustine, translated by Garry Wills, finished April 23. I know I said I would do the one with nonhuman characters next, but it got complicated.

augustine

Hundred Word Review: Augustine of Hippo’s testimony is a staple in Catholic literature. Born in Africa in 354, he became a celebrated orator and conceited playboy. His mother, Saint Monica, prayed to the point of suffering for years for his conversion to Catholicism. Finally, Augustine became a Doctor of the Church in the ultimate come-to-Jesus story. Every Christian needs to get their hands on this book, but don’t expect to read it in a week. Beneath all of Augustine’s rich language and profound philosophy are moments that make you say, “That’s so me.” Take your time with this book. It’s well worth it.

Check out PopSugar’s challenge and let me know in the comments if you have a book recommendation for one of the categories. And if you want to do the challenge yourself, let me know what you’re reading!

Next up, “a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.”

Happy reading!

Vicky

The Liebster Award

Bonjour, mes amis!

On a lighter note than my last post, I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by my dear friend Emily. I haven’t done an about-me post in a while and I’ve gotten a bunch of new commenters and followers in the meantime. So here’s a little fun diversion until the follow-up to my last post (coming soon, I hope).

The Liebster Award is an award given from one blogger to the next – a total of their favorite blogs – with fewer than 200 followers.

Rules:

  • link back and thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • answer the 11 questions they give you
  • tag up to 11 bloggers who have 200 or fewer followers
  • ask your nominees 11 questions and let them know you tagged them!

So I may be biased because we’ve been friends for almost six (six?!) years, but Emily’s blog is amazing. If you love anything having to do with movies, TV and pop culture in general, you have to check out her blog. Oh, and did I mention you can find her writing for Elite Daily? Thanks for the nomination, girlie. Keep being awesome. I miss you!

OK, let’s see what we have here …

1. If you could have tea with any one person from history who would it be?

There are just so many! For a tea-drinking buddy, I’ll go with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, mostly so I could just bask in her saintly awesomeness. I haven’t read her autobiography yet, but I took a trip to Lisieux a month ago and it made me love her even more. Anne Frank is also on that list, but instead of having tea, I’d rather have a sleepover where we read girly magazines and spill our souls until 5 a.m.

2. Who is your favorite pop culture vampire?

DRACULA. Nobody beats the original and the best. Dracula will never not be scary, and he will never, ever sparkle.

3. What was the first chapter book you remember reading?

There were probably others before it, but the first I distinctly remember reading was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’m an old soul, I know. Mary Lennox just fascinated me, probably because I was more of a Sara Crewe kind of girl. I specifically remember reading the chapter where Mary enters the garden for the first time. That was such a magical and exciting moment, and I don’t think I’d turned a page that fast before.

4. What’s up next in your Netflix Queue?

Nothing at the moment, because I’m in a country with spotty Netflix. But I do have “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Virgin Suicides” from the library.

5. What is your favorite word?

You’re really making me pick just one?!

OK, for the purposes of this question, I love snarky in English, chamallow (marshmallow) in French, and squillare (to ring, like a phone) in Italian.

6. Which member of the Scooby Gang is your favorite?

Velma. She was always underrated, but to me, she seemed really awesome.

Oh wait, wrong show …

7. What is your favorite, ‘so bad it’s good’ movie to watch?

I had to really think about this one. I’ll have to go with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s “Passport to Paris.” No, this movie is NOT the reason I love France, because that’s just insulting. I always watched this movie at the dentist’s office because I never owned it. It’s enjoyably over-the-top and silly, and living in France has debunked many of the stereotypes in that movie for me. On a side note, if the American ambassador to France doesn’t know what French fries are, he’s doing it wrong.

8. What music album changed the way you listen to music the most?

Vanessa Carlton’s “Be Not Nobody” was the first album I listened to and loved all the way through. This was back in her “A Thousand Miles” days — don’t lie, you still know all the words. It was the first time I had ever heard a hit song by a new artist and loved it so much that I wanted to buy the whole album. And guess what? I still love her. She’s still making music. Her best songs are not on the radio, which is a dang shame. Oh, and she just had a baby.

9. What house do you think you would be sorted into at Hogwarts?

Huffleclaw. Or Ravenpuff.

10. What is your favorite Broadway musical?

“Into the Woods.” Easy.

11. Which celebrity death will you never really get over?

It’s not really a death, per se, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over the Civil Wars breakup. Ever. That was just one of the most beautiful and perfect duos of all time. Chemistry like that doesn’t come around that often, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. However, Joy Williams just released a new single and it’s awesome.

Whew, I did it! Amanda Livingston, Adventures of a Sunbeam, This M Word, No Money for a Compass, The Horseshoe Crab March, Confessions of an Aspiring Journalist, Bohemian Nerd, Dave’s Corner, THE FASHION MARIONNETTE, Curious Comet, and noveltreks, you’re up.

1. What’s one piece of advice you would give yourself five years ago?

2. Describe your dream place of residence.

3. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

4. Which song or artist in your music collection are you most embarrassed about?

5. What would you do if your blog had 1 million followers?

6. Which language would you most like to learn and why?

7. Finish this sentence: I could be happy without ____________.

8. If you could give a TED talk on any subject, what would it be about?

9. Which movie deserves a sequel?

10. If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

11. Name one thing you did in the past week that you’re proud of.

Again, thank you Emily for nominating me. New nominees, go wild!

À bientôt!

– Vicky