90 Day Challenge: The Third Interruption by “Sharp Objects”

Without listing all my reasons, it has been eight days since I posted anything related to my Nineveh 90 Day Challenge.

So I guess I will instead weigh in with my impression of the “Sharp Objects” HBO series and its ending. (Yes, I binge watched.)

First, I knew Amma had killed her friends as soon as she said she could get her roller skating girl fans and related boy friends to do anything she asked of them. It was just too prophetic a statement.

Amy Adams’ portrayal of Camille broke my heart. She was so damaged yet so capable of love at the same time.

Yet I am not sure how her character was left standing at the end of the day – heck, by the middle of the day – given the non-stop boozing. And she was a little too clear-headed and able to track the pieces, even if she made the wrong picture out of them until the end.

Compare that to Paula Hawkins’ alcoholic character Rachel in “Girl on the Train” starring Emily Blunt.  That story played out through an alcoholic haze that Blunt deftly captured.  Her character literally stumbles into the truth – not with a clear head, deciding to make herself a sacrificial murder victim.

I was a little slower to catch onto Adora’s Munchausen by Proxy problem.  I realized, of course, there was some kind of pathology behind her relationship with Camille.  But earlier on I thought it was because Camille was somehow thought to be the cause of her middle sister’s death.

At any rate, Patricia Clarke can give Jessica Lange a run for the “creepiest mother in a television series” Emmy category.

Amma is the character twin of Amy Dunne in Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” and Camille finding the tooth in the doll house is supposed to be the equivalent in shock value as discovering Amy staged her own torture rape.

And both stories end leaving readers/viewers with the question of how Camille/Nick will go on with life’s prosaic daily rhythm when each knows exactly how deeply disturbed and depraved Amma/Amy are.

Camille’s character seems like a deer caught in the headlights at the end; Nick’s is the deer head mounted after being hit by the car.

Camille doesn’t deserve the ongoing horror of living with Amma.  Nick perhaps was a little more complicit in his own ending.

In either case, Flynn seems to enjoy creating twisted, sociopathic characters like Amma and Amy.

She does it sharply.

green yellow red needle pin and safety pins
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


90 Day Challenge: Day 26 – Continence

“I thought that continence was a matter of our own strength, and I knew that I had not the strength: for in my utter foolishness I did not know the word of your Scripture that none can be continent unless you give it.” -St. Augustine

My first reaction on seeing the word “continence” in today’s Challenge reflection was to think of a Depends commercial.

It shows just how easily our minds turn to the messages of this world rather than to God’s. How conditioned we become by advertising to hear certain words and immediately think of the brand product associated with it.

But St. Augustine means the word “continence” in terms of “self-control.” Basically he is saying without God and his Word to guide us, self-control is beyond our grasp.

It is akin to that need to surrender to a Higher Power referenced in the Big Book and other anonymous materials.

Surrender must be the first step every Christian takes – to give oneself totally up to the Lord – before he or she can begin to possess any of the fruits of the Holy Spirit or undertake any of the discipline that comes with discipleship.

For me, self-control has come with starts and stops.  I can be very disciplined for a prolonged period of time. And then, suddenly, something interrupts that rhythm I began and – poof – all is abandoned.

For nearly 20 years I was an exercise freak.  It could be 11 pm and if I had not done my Jane Fonda workout, I would still make sure I did so before turning in.  It mattered that much to me.

Then my circumstances changed and my ability to engage in this long-held habit became interrupted. And though I go through periodic spurts of trying to reestablish this discipline of physical fitness, I never quite succeed in fully re-establishing it as integral to my well-being.

The same can be said for my prayer life and my eating habits as well. I am reminded of a song by The Animals at this juncture:

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”

But intentions are not actions, and right action does not come without discipline and self-control.

This is why I decided to try the Nineveh 90 Day Challenge.  It encompasses both the healthy spiritual and physical lifestyle I want to be dominant in my life for however many years I have left of it.

So nearly 30 days in, how have I done?

The results are mixed. I have done much, much better with the spiritual challenge.  I consider the habit of writing daily as part of this.  There have been only a couple of days when I have doubled up due to not getting my prayers completed and my own thoughts down to share.

I am gaining some momentum on the physical side, though not in a regularly fixed pattern yet.  Still, I have exercised several times at some point throughout these last three weeks, and hooking up with Kelly from Earth School Yoga for weekly restorative yoga classes has been a tonic. ( I even gave up Netflix for the Gaiam TV Fit & Yoga channel!)

The diet discipline hasn’t kicked in, but I haven’t been to the nutritionist or laid in a supply of her Healthwise protein bars yet.  That is an errand for Monday.

Still, kicking the Coca Cola habit is the hardest, as drinking soda daily goes back into my childhood years growing up in the taverns where my parents mostly worked.  (Reminder: they don’t serve milk in bars.  And up North, we call soda “pop.”)

So basically I am still in the “surrendering” stage, working on building up my muscles of self-control.

I would grade myself a “B” for spirituality, a “C” for exercise and a “D” for diet. So evidently still plenty of room for improvement.

But my intentions are good.

90 Day Challenge: The Third Day

“And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.

Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it.

And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam.

And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.

Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” [Genesis 2:18;21-24]

Everyone has a cross to bear. Or perhaps multiple ones, depending on their life’s season and circumstance.

Sometimes I feel like I am carrying a number of them all at once; not the huge, tree-like Cross to which our Lord was nailed, but an armful of smaller crosses that I am struggling to hold so they don’t clatter to the ground, their sound signaling the enormity of my failures at one time for all the world to hear.

This is one of those times. I thought starting the Nineveh 90 spiritual challenge would help me focus and bring some discipline to what has been an emotionally chaotic few months.

But today that chaos swept over me like a tidal wave, leaving me stranded on the beach, wet and all alone.

Alone again, actually. “Naturally,” as the Beatles sang.

If I am Adam’s rib to someone, I have no idea who or where he is. In what is still my girlish naïveté (if a nearly 65-year-old woman can have such), I keep running up to the men I encounter romantically thinking “this time will be a fit.” But it never has been.

Perhaps it never will be and I must finally accept that even if all the other crosses are somehow made to disappear, this is the one that I will carry with me to my grave.  That this is the cross I was born to carry.

Today’s Nineveh 90 spiritual focus is on hope, which Hebrews 10:23 says we are to hold onto “without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

The Catechism says “hope responds to the aspiration of happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man.” (As Adam’s rib, one presumes the extension of that hope for happiness to women as well.)

Adam had the entire garden of Eden and all it contained. He even walked there in conversation with God.

Yet still God sensed an incompleteness in Adam, an unhappiness that even paradise and communion with the Father could not quell.

So how then is a rib left without a heart to beat beneath supposed to be complete in its happiness either?

These are God’s mysterious ways, I know: a plan I do not understand, a larger cosmic picture I cannot see from the small space in which I somehow fit the puzzle.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” said St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

Well, at least on this third challenging day, I managed some prayer.

I shall have to save for another time the challenge of hoping without worry. And all the other third day Nineveh 90 challenges I failed to undertake.

Did you hear that? It was the sound of a cross, dropping.

The 90 Day Challenge

Today I am starting on a battle plan that I hope will gird my faith more tightly to me; improve my mental, physical and spiritual health; and renew me, body and soul.

A friend of mine has done this faith challenge, called Nineveh 90, and she swears by its benefits.

It is basically a program of prayer, diet and exercise designed to bring you into greater communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Because of health challenges and knowing what will and won’t work due to my fibromyalgia and related autoimmune disorders, I will have to adapt it. Twenty years ago, perhaps I could have taken the program on as written. But that was 20 years ago. Maybe.

Okay.  In all honesty, I would have never attempted this 20 years ago.  My work and commute schedule would have precluded it.  But now as I enter what I am calling my “second retirement” a month before my 65th birthday, I want to kick it off right.

So getting up at 6 am is a little early for my body to function due to bedtime meds designed to put me into deeper, more restorative sleep.  But, I can move bedtime to 10 pm and get up at 8 am. That is doable. So then I will do Morning Prayer. Then again at noon. Then at six pm. Then at bedtime.

My routine of saying a rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet and various other prayers dear to me will continue, as will my  perusal of the day’s readings and reflections in the Laudate and the devotionals that always seem to speak directly to that day’s needs.

I was also delighted to listen to today’s “Heart of Mary” podcast on her virtue of patience, which is not one of my own great virtues.  And it fits with my dedication as an auxiliary member of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays may be a challenge. I may need to just follow my nutritionist’s diet plan.  Giving up sugar – well, that will challenge my Coca Cola addiction.  But I will do my best.

Walking a mile each morning and riding my recumbent bike for 30 minutes each afternoon to start – doable if I keep a good mindset about it.

I can keep the TV off and my mind focused on reading and music. I may work some cleaning chores into the mix for the added exercise benefit – and because my house desperately needs it.

Giving up a number of ministerial leadership responsibilities will hopefully free up time and head space to focus on a more contemplative, interior spirituality. Not that I am leaving all the ministries themselves. I just don’t want to be the person responsible to meet any more deadlines or plan any more workshops or fairs of any stripe.

My second “career” as professional volunteer is over. From now on my hands will just be among the many trying to lighten the load.

Daily Mass attendance? We’ll see. But definitely rejoining my prayer group after a more than two-year absence because I always had some committee meeting or another to attend is a doable goal and has been a much missed grounding in my life.

Consistency in First Friday Adoration is something I definitely will be adding, however.

More time to write? Well, let’s see what God produces through the Holy Spirit at work in me.

Today is a fresh start.