We’re speaking different languages



Have you ever read about the five love languages? When I was in my first courtship, I purchased the bestselling book and tried reading it . . . and I was totally not impressed. Granted, even now that I can see that the concept is an important one, this theory still can’t be the sole saving grace of a relationship (especially in the context of marriage), since a successful and holy marriage has to be built on even more than simply keeping one’s emotional or “love tank” full. It can’t always be about preserving happy feelings, which is (if my memory is correct) the predominate focus of the book. (But hey, in today’s dysfunctional culture, you’ve got to start somewhere . . .)

But at nineteen years old, I didn’t like the book at all. It didn’t seem to relate to me and my ongoing experiences, and I was confused and suspicious. All of these “languages” are important to me. I’m supposed to have one I “speak”?

In retrospect, I lacked self-knowledge, and had a pile of growing and learning to wade through before I could come to a place where I was better equipped for a relationship. God, of course, allowed that all to happen in His own good time. Over the upcoming few years, I learned about the four temperaments from the Catholic perspective (a vastly important key, thanks in good part to The Dash <3) and, eventually, I mentally revisited the concept of the five love languages.

Ahh . . . this is starting to make more sense to me now.

Since the basic information is readily available in other places, I’m not going to dive into explaining Dr. Gary Chapman’s theories, but rather, I want to ramble about how important my own self-knowledge of the way love is (emotionally speaking) most effectively communicated to me became, and how this works in The Dash and I’s courtship.

* * *

Two weeks ago, on my baptism anniversary πŸ˜‰

Yesterday, The Dash and I celebrated 14 months of courtship . . . and in the grand scope of our beautiful courtship, we’ve talked many times about how our love languages match and contrast. We’ve gradually become more aware of instances where one of us is trying to show affection in the way most natural to us . . . and yet it doesn’t quite cause the heartmelting reaction we would desire. We’ve learned how, if we rely solely on our natural inclinations of how to express affection, we’re speaking different languages. We have a long way left to go–but we’re learning!

Just for fun, I took the official love languages “quiz” (you can find it here) yesterday, and it entirely confirmed everything I’ve suspected about myself for a year or two. At the highest level, I am a “words of affirmation” person. Reading the site’s description makes me grin: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward . . . Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”

That is completely me! And my next-highest languages are a tie between “physical touch” and “quality time,” which I already knew . . .

However . . . I’ve very slowly learned that The Dash has a different highest love language. In the past, when I’ve really wanted to show him how much I love him, I was most inclined to write a suuuuper long letter/email/text, thinking of all the words of affirmation possible that might boost his spirits, as his words of affirmation invariably boost mine. (Because a few loving words from him transform my whole day!) But over time, I’ve learned that, to The Dash, words aren’t his thing.

(I’m thinking . . . How is that possible?! How could he NOT want words of affirmation?! A long letter?! Me telling him how amazing he is?! Isn’t that just what he wants?!) Noooo, dear blind Mary . . . it isn’t . . .

This reality has taken quite a long time for me to ingest, and even now, fourteen months in, I feel as though I’m at the very beginning of learning how to channel my desire to show him affection into one of his predominate love languages, “acts of service,” or just being helpful in some way. Hilariously enough, “acts of service” are towards the bottom of my natural emotional register when it comes to love languages (although, of course, I’m not blind to them and I truly think they’re sweet!). And yet those are things that, emotionally, speak to his heart, and they are what he naturally defaults to in an effort to express his commitment and love. (By the way, he is such a serving person . . . that was evident from the very, very beginning, but it continues to blow me away now. I just had to brag.)

Learning these truths about one another, and making an effort to turn my expressions of love away from my default, towards things that make him happier (which is harder), has been such a beautiful thing for me. Inherently, it is a practice of selflessness, and what better soil for love to grow in? And it has also been an opportunity for me to mentally translate actions that I might have not initially realized were loving ones.

Thankfully, we do share similar languages that both rank high on our emotional registers, so we aren’t entirely polar opposites! However, our strongest shared love language is probably physical touch, which at this point in our courtship is kept to bare minimum and lies dormant for now. I consider this a blessing in disguise; Our Lord arranged things to where we’re having to spend our courtship learning how to give of ourselves and speak only in the languages morally allowed to us . . . in which we find ourselves quite different!

Again, I see myself only at the very beginning of this journey in learning how to love The Dash selflessly and well; to be intuitive to his heart and to be able to mature into actions and ways of loving that bring him joy. I know it will be a process involving time, patience, and learning curves, but I’m praying for the grace to grow in that process a little every day!




{Today} 11.7.18



A quickly written post to capture raw memories of the day . . .

Today, I got up at 5am, showered, left home shortly after 6, had my two sisters to the orthodontist-carpool-rendezvous point before 7 (our orthodontist is an hour away, so the families involved take turns driving), and then I went to meet The Dash at Chick-fil-A for breakfast at 7:20 ❀

Recently, due to lack of chaperone availability, our courtship’s ongoing principles have allowed for us to be out in public places without my siblings, as long as I keep in good touch with my parents, which is something of a new dynamic . . . Let’s just say this was the best chicken biscuit date anyone ever had πŸ˜‰

We both had breakfast as we woke up together (I was groggy!); he showed me some of his mobile development project on my phone, we talked about how our morning had gone thus far, and then we stepped back out into the beautiful November sunshine and returned to our cars. Yes, I was following him to campus because I had time to kill, which meant I could sneak into his classes for the first time ever . . .

Software Engineering was at 8am. We scurried up three flights of stairs (I always take stairs two at a time, possibly due to combined impatience and a sense of fun . . . this makes The Dash laugh, but this time we had to do it together) because traffic had made us a little late. We arrived at the right hallway and it clearly dawned on me that I was about to walk into a college class for the first time ever, without the professor knowing I was coming; so I lagged behind The Dash’s quick footsteps with some trepidation.

“Just play it cool,” he instructed me.

“Do you want me to wait outside the room?”

“No, just come in! It’s fine!”

I put my eyes on the floor and followed him with the loyal obedience that comes from sheer love. The professor was engrossed, and The Dash and I sat down in the second row, and I got a free class without a problem.

I loved it! Not that I’m at all fluent with the syntax of things–most of it was over my head–but I got little bits of it here and there. Plus, I’d heard about this professor from The Dash and so was delighted to see his personality in person! He loves what he does. There weren’t too many students, so the atmosphere was laid-back and fairly quiet, and I loved the experience of listening to the lecture and the students’ occasional questions/interjections, and absorbing that this was and had been a sliver of The Dash’s reality for these past semesters. To step inside his world for a morning was such a gift to me!

Class wrapped up just after 9; now we really had to run, because the next was across campus and The Dash has a ten-minute window. We moved our cars and I was forced to reluctantly inch into one of the only free visitor parking places on that side of campus. (I hate parking. It is the bane of my existence.) It was not a job well done, which would be proved to me later. We half-ran towards the gym, The Dash carrying his shoes (this class was Social Dance, from which I’ve vicariously learned so much!).

I perched on the bleacher and watched The Dash and his classmates learn a sequence of steps for the tango, plus a cha-cha review. Of course, he was the best dancer there, but it was no surprise to me. The instructor was very kind to let me sit in and watch!

We returned to our cars, I narrowly pulled out of my dreadful parking job, and we both began driving towards a nearby Perpetual Adoration chapel, hoping for a few minutes of prayer together before I had to pick up my sisters again. That’s when I saw it; the dreaded slip of paper tucked under my windshield wipers, fluttering in the wind . . .

We got to the chapel and I stepped out of the car. “What is that?” I moaned to The Dash, gesturing in despair. He squinted, searched, pulled it out.

“Are you serious?” he says in that perfectly mastered tone of, My girlfriend never does anything wrong! But yes, it was a $15 parking citation 😦 He bundled it into his pocket, said he would take it to the office, and that I shouldn’t worry about it. Being that we only had about five minutes to spare, we hurried into the chapel and I put it from my mind for the moment.

Beautiful silence. The Presence of Our Lord. Inestimable treasures in five short minutes.

We walked back out again, and with The Dash so gallantly leading the way for me again (I’ve never driven in that part of town, and while I had written down some form of directions, he’s just awesome and selfless that way, as well as being committed to always driving the most efficient route . . . which I hadn’t written down . . .), we drove to where my sisters were waiting to be picked up.

At that point, when he and I and I were saying goodbye, the sky was appropriately overcast and ominous, and I reluctantly approached the topic of the citation again. I’ve never gotten a citation in my life and, due to my ignorance on the matter, was fretting about insurance impact, possible stress or trouble for my parent’s (it’s their car) . . . The Dash was reassuring and said he would find out more about it, and it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, but I just felt so bad about the whole thing and that I’d made it happen when my parents had let me use their car. Feminine emotions can blow things somewhat out of proportion (ahem) and I, for one, have a tendency to take things like this too much to heart behind my brave-ish face . . .

I drove the girls home through a mournful downpour of rain and, ridiculously, I was blinking away tears the whole time, not really from frustration or even embarrassment as much as anxiety and regret. We three Donellan girls arrived back to our homestead and piled upstairs, back to our welcoming family . . . my sisters described their ortho appointments while I nervously waited for an opportunity to bring the citation up . . . that opportunity not being immediately forthcoming, I finally followed Dad back to the master bedroom, tried telling him that I got a citation, and after I got out the wobbly initial explanation of my awful parking job, I started crying like a fourteen-year-old (well, really, a twenty-two-year-old who’s just gotten her first citation) and telling him I was sorry.

However, all this did was give my sweet father a burst of paternal joy, and he laughed and hugged me and told me I was being silly and that there was nothing more serious about it than the fact that I was out $15. Hugs from Dad cannot be replaced or outgrown ❀

The above picture was taken by my brother (who somehow is ingenious at locating and using my phone) while I lay tiredly but contentedly on Mom and Dad’s bed, after having cried my eyes out for two minutes over my first citation, and feeling much more rational and calm about the whole business.

All in all, it’s been a wonderful day. Spending time with The Dash is worth all the parking citations in the world ❀


Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 10 (A glorious Thursday . . .)



This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Thursday, October 11th, 2018 A.D. Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a beautiful feast day!); St. Tarachus and Companions, Martyrs.

Outside my window . . .

It rained all day yesterday, dreary and dim, although walking through the rain to get the mail yesterday afternoon was honestly delightful πŸ™‚ I felt just like a kid and had to run in order to not get completely drenched on the way back up!


Early this morning, around 6:30, it was still dreary and dim, but by the time I left home it was becoming a gorgeous day; breezy, bonny blue, growing ever cooler . . . this weekend our lows should be arriving in the fifties! Ecstasy! Wonderful weather to walk in!


Sounds throughout the house . . .

Next to nothing at the moment; things are quiet because of school πŸ™‚

For the past few days, I’ve had Death Cab for Cutie’s “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” in my head and have listened to it every time I’ve driven somewhere . . . like so many other tunes, The Dash introduced me to this one . . . it’s really sweet! ❀

I am wearing . . .

An old black Royal Tailor t-shirt we found at the thrift store years ago; jean skirt.

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Here in about an hour, we’re going to be making cream-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalepenos (the jalepenos having come from our garden) . . . a family favorite. It’ll go with supper, which should be roast chicken and veggies.

A note on projects . . .

Today The Dash and I taught a dance class together! After getting gas, I drove downtown and met him at our Cathedral (another homeschool co-op meets there) and for two hours we taught two different groups of kids waltz and fox trot for their “etiquette class.” It’s a two-part class, so we’ll be there again next week.

Honestly . . . there’s nothing more fun in courtship than being with your guy for a weekday morning (happiness!!) and helping him teach a dance class. ❀

I don’t think I’d driven downtown alone until this morning, so that was also a fun adventure . . . nor had I parked in a ticketed parking deck before. After about thirty seconds of fruitless exploration, I called The Dash (who’d arrived before me and was kindly waiting for me) . . . “Where exactly are you parked??? I . . . think I know where I’m going . . . Level 2, you say, like the numerical second level? Because it’s really the third level . . .”

All fun πŸ™‚

I am reading . . .

On the way back home, I drove by the library to pick up a few things, and behold, North and South had arrived! I can’t wait to start it here in a bit.

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

My mom forwarded me this spot-on article earlier this afternoon . . . Chesterton and domesticity are an immensely inspiring combination.

The place where babies are born, where men die, where the drama of mortal life is acted, is not an office or a shop or a bureau. It is something much smaller in size and much larger in scope. And while nobody would be such a fool as to pretend that it is the only place where people should work, or even the only place where women should work, it has a character of unity and universality that is not found in any of the fragmentary experiences of the division of labour.

On living the Faith . . .

Today being the feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, what better day in all the world for my Total Consecration chain bracelet to arrive? Such a blessing!


I must have tiny wrists, because I ordered the smaller of the two options but still had to get my brother to snap off (with some sort of very strong pliers/cutters . . . thank goodness for handy brothers!) four or five links in order for it to fit just between loosely and snugly. But it’s perfect! ❀

I deliberately chose to put it on my left wrist, since that hand will one day, God-willing, wear both my engagement and wedding rings, and be the hand that indicates my state in life. In striving to give Our Lady absolutely everything, putting the chain on that hand seemed fitting to me.

Prayerfully . . .

Praying for our Marine friend who will be coming home from training in just over a week! And for other intentions, too . . . always so much to pray for . . .

Have a beautiful rest of your day! πŸ™‚


A birthday (accompanied by musings on my face and a new year of life . . .)



Yesterday was my birthday . . . I turned 22 years old, and I seem to have also turned the corner of reaching any really “special” age milestones until 33, when, in accordance with a long-lived joke amongst some of my dearest friends, I leave my “irresponsible tweens” at last and become a proper adult! (If you know of hobbits, you know of what we speak.)

Maybe we’re sticklers, but in our family, we children know the precise hour and minute in which we were born. Until it reaches that miraculous moment on the clock, we’re not legitimately our new age. Being the first baby, I took the longest, unsurprisingly . . . and so my brother set alarms in several places, all of which went off at 5:02pm and I officially became 22. The Dash had walked in only minutes before and so (with amusement at our oddball Donellan traditions) was able to join in the ecstatic outcry that I was finally 22.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day, spent with the people I love most in the world. I was able to get up fairly early, have my usual prayer time, eat waffles with my youngest sister and have a good workout before leaving with Mom and the siblings to Adoration, Confession and Mass for the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, my dear patron. The Dash had a break between classes and was able to join us for Mass ❀ I couldn’t have been happier or more grateful to God for that time! Afterwards we ran into several friends, and I even got a beautiful priestly blessing from Fr. A., who was delighted to hear that the young man I was with was “connected” to me πŸ˜€

Later on, my family, The Dash and I all had dinner together (oven chicken strips, homemade biscuits, salad . . . an amazing combination you really should consider), and we had the usual candle-blowing, present-opening ceremony. Lemon cake with vanilla glaze . . . perfection. The presents and cards were all incredibly sweet and lovely and so thoughtful . . . books such as Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture (I’ve wanted this FOREVER!) . . . the most heartmelting hanging photo, handmade by Lena, with The Dash and I’s special song lyrics handwritten around it (pictured at the top of this post) . . . makeup and nightgowns (I really wanted nightgowns–my erratic brain finds them charming and feminine), Oolong tea, beautiful monogrammed stationery, and football tickets for The Dash and I’s one-year courting anniversary next week (a total surprise!!). We spent some time outside, then came in and danced for a bit, watched a movie . . . it was just such a wonderful day. I’m so grateful to simply be alive and surrounded so undeservedly by such love and goodness and grace.

A super sweet handmade card from my youngest sister

It’s such a staggering mystery of love–life, that is. In Adoration, it was impossible for me not to contemplate how God could never have made me. And yet He drew me out of nothingness, impelled by Divine love, by the thought of me in His Mind that had been in existence for all eternity. Poof! When the time was right, He fashioned my immortal soul and my teeny body. With all of my idiosyncrasies, quirks, endless facial expressions, temperament, faults, strengths, and every single action and choice I will ever make . . . I was meant to live from all of eternity.

It’s just a mind-boggling thought.

Especially when you take into account my facial expressions.

This morning I was looking through all the pictures taken last night, and I was constantly caught in that middle ground between squirming embarrassment and humbly amused acceptance for how God made me . . . I have a remarkably expressive countenance. HIGH expression production. If you watch a video of me, it makes a little more sense. The fluidity of motion and transition between expressions has a tolerably softening, normalizing effect. If you look at frozen pictures, however, it looks like I own dozens of personalities that emerge at the most insane but highly amusing moments.

Some photos are a little too much, but I did pick out several of the moderate ones . . . and no, it’s not at all my intention to degrade all these expressions, but rather to happily poke fun at them πŸ˜‰


Firstly, the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the countenance of an impish little kid.

The initial bites of ice cream were incredibly cold against the roof of my mouth, for some strange reason, however, which brought on this expression:



As you can probably gather from the following shots, I am caught mid-sentence quite often.




Then there’s the wrinkled-nose laugh . . .


The subtle smirk . . .


Lastly, the pensive moments . . .



Needless to say, I was having a great deal of fun yesterday πŸ™‚ “The best birthday ever,” as the saying goes, but it truly was, because 1) The love of a family just keeps growing, which sweetens every single birthday, and 2) It was technically my first birthday spent with The Dash, and with us being “us” (although we were on the brink of courtship on my last last birthday and he called me that night *sigh*, it still wasn’t nearly so lovely as this was πŸ˜‰ ) To have him at the table while I read his card and opened his gifts, and being able to hug him, was such a gift! Courtship birthdays are awesome! I am so richly blessed in the love of my family, The Dash, and my friends ❀






Catching up

Us Last Saturday, I experienced my first-ever 5K! As I’d mentioned in an earlier post, The Dash and I had been planning to accomplish this 5K together ever since early Lent (although it had started out as more of a joke than anything! . . .). Accordingly, I’d been working to build my running stamina (“pursuing athletic development” as a not-at-all-condescending friend coined it . . . I’m by no means a paragon of athleticism) several times a week, and was able to jog for 20 minute stretches. My goal was to run the 5K in half an hour or so, which I had been told was something like the average. But as God would have it, I kept running into (pun intended) some painful medical symptoms that eventually forced me to resign myself to walking the 5K. And so, of course, my awesome guy lovingly decided to walk with me, too πŸ™‚

I calculated that if I could steadily speed-walk at over 4 mph, I might complete the 5K in something like 45-50 minutes, and so that became my new goal . . . my sisters and mom and I would go to the nearby lake the week beforehand, and I would speed-walk for half an hour or so along the trails. The weather was lovely, and this kind of glorified walking posed no real symptoms to me, so I grew increasingly confident that I wouldn’t have too much trouble and would be able to thoroughly enjoy this 5K. (And, after all, it would mean nearly an hour of walking and talking exclusively with The Dash, so what more could I want?)

The morning of was chilly, breezy, and drizzling, and as the 5K started promptly at 8am, we arrived a good half-hour early, and we stretched and chatted with our friends who were participating. (Our team was considerably large, at least 30 or so people.) I had accidentally wound up with the bib of a 60-year-old man (our bibs were 1 digit apart, and we wear the same shirt size, apparently), so we traded that in and then proceeded to pin our chip-bibs on our official 5K shirts. It was the first “official” event shirt I’ve ever owned because I participated in said event, which was a ridiculously gratifying feeling. I also got a yellow ribbon for my hair, which all the team girls were wearing.

As the time edged closer to 8am, we either cautiously dabbled in, or completely forewent, the somewhat embarrassing warm-up routine, set to dance music, and then quickly went and lined up along with everyone else. Not extremely competitive by nature, I didn’t anticipate the helpful adrenaline that would surface from being surrounded by so many runners, and while humility dictated that I shouldn’t and wouldn’t mind if we did, simultaneously I was fixated on the resolution that even though we were walking, we weren’t going to come in last place πŸ˜‰ And so I kind of bounded off when the horn sounded. Of course, everyone flooded ahead in one great fell swoop for the initial portion, but five or ten minutes into the 5K, The Dash and I were making good time (for walking, anyway, although he preferred to jog beside my energizer-bunny walk) and working our way up and down the old neighborhood streets. (Here and there, we would pass people who had slowed down, which was technically encouraging although by this point I was personally focused on just achieving my planned time.)

We panted and laughed and talked about various books, about investing in old homes, about stocks, about food, and about the fact that I would probably never be a mother who ran with a stroller. He pointed out an apartment where he formerly lived and the park where he would go to read. Although my legs were incessantly burning (especially my calves! Agh!), it was such relaxed, quality bonding time that I couldn’t have been happier.

We continuously kept track of how far we’d gone and how we were doing for time. The statistics were encouraging. For the first mile or so, we seemed right on track with my estimate for progression. But then, wonder of wonders, as we completed mile 2 and embarked on the home stretch, we were making better time than I thought was feasible. (“How fast is it possible to actually walk?”) This realization was perfect timing, as my legs felt anything but lovely. We were at just 38 minutes when the finish came into view. Deeply inspired, I felt it was time to be a hero.

“Do you want to sprint for the rest of it?” I asked (gasped).

“Really?” he asks.


“OK, let’s go!”

We started sprinting, and instantly I felt like I was melting, that my legs were rubber, and that I no longer had a stomach, while beside me The Dash well, dashed. His blog name is in place for a well-earned reason. Let it be known to history that he didn’t mean to finish slightly ahead of me–some things are just physically impossible to prevent. Once you’ve started, you’ve started. With full knowledge I unleashed the dash in The Dash.

“I promise I’ll slow up! I’ll only be the best by a TINY bit!” – Dash Parr

And so, just behind him, I clocked in the 5K at 39 minutes, 44 seconds–nearly six minutes faster than the minimum time I’d planned for. Triumph!!!

I staggered to a stop beside The Dash, for approximately fifteen seconds feeling as though I might throw up and pass out. But then it got much better. I hugged him delightedly although I was sopping with sweat. Our other running friends had achieved fantastic times in the low 20-minute range, but the personal happiness that had come from accomplishing the 5K in a different and albeit slower way than I’d hoped, but together, and having had such a good time throughout it, made me ecstatic.

We cooled off and stretched for a while, drinking water and eating oranges provided to us (they were the best and stickiest oranges I’ve ever consumed in my life, I’ll have you know). Awards eventually came; many of our friends placed high in their different tiers and, collectively, our team won the Fastest Team award! (Obviously, because of us πŸ˜› ) It was a wonderful morning.

And did I mention that this fundraising 5K was part of a Lebanese food festival? Ah, yes. There is something wonderful about having expended loads of calories across 3 miles, and then slowly gaining them back again through various Lebanese delicacies.

But in essence, that was the 5K: although one hilarious moment remained. Once we were home, we checked into the official race results, and lo and behold, something had gone wrong with either The Dash’s chip or mine, because officially, I finished 15 seconds before him. Cue roaring laughter on both of our parts! πŸ˜€

In closing, I highly recommend that every courting couple completes at least one 5K together for the purposes of bonding and achieving something difficult but fun together . . . it whetted my appetite for regular walking (my “talking’ appetite needs no whetting), and I know The Dash and I both hope that this will be an element of our relationship that continues for a very long time!

Have a blessed Thursday!