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Helping Singles Overcome Negativity

Thursday, February 28, 2013
There were no comments on yesterday's piece, so I assume you were all too depressed or plunged into a terrible gloom at the memory of being snowed by some guy who got your attention by saying, "You look like you could throw a mean baseball--for a girl."

But as I checked the Seraphapalooza Question List, I see that the next question is full of cheer, for it is about getting Singles to stop moaning about being Single. I hasten to point out that these questions all came from Single women. I personally am cool with listening to Singles moan about being Single--or, rather, reading your emails on the subject. But many people are not, and that includes Single women who are trying to be upbeat and gung-ho and "I can go to Paris without anyone's permission!" about it all.

Since I have spent almost every weekday for the past six years trying to help Singles overcome negativity, I have some insights into how you can do that, too.

1. Ask the shocking question, "What's good about being Single?"

2. Make the shocking statement, "Well, I'd love the right man to come along, but I have to admit I'm enjoying these aspects of Single Life..."

3. Capitalize Single. Don't say and write, "I'm single." Say and write, "I'm Single!" (But not at work or in academic papers.)

4. Consider asking the married women in your group, "What do you miss about being Single?" or, if you think they will smirk at the Singles and say "Nothing! I'm so relieved to be married!", ask "Do married women really have it easier?" People very rarely want to admit they have it easier, so be prepared for some eye-opening stuff you've never considered before.

5. Ask, "What if you were the most beautiful woman in the world, and because of some insane circumstance, you getting married would cause the moon to crash into the sea. What would you do with your life?"

6. Read up on the lives of Single women, both saintly ones, and sinnerly ones, like Greta Garbo. A publisher once turned down Seraphic Singles because some of the Singles I mentioned were not very saintly, or not perfectly saintly. She did not care about my point, which was that successful happy Singles, while not always modelling the Christian life, certainly model satisfaction in the Single state. And, anyway, aren't you stoked that Greta Garbo never married? Greta Garbo!

7. Pay attention to the lives of formerly Single women who married late and were made miserable. This seems like an odd way of overcoming negativity, but I have found that insight into another woman's misery makes me grateful for the life I have. Sure, I would like to have children. No, I would not have liked to have been the mother of [most recent teenage school shooter].

8. Trot out my adventure analogy. Fairy tales usually end with "and they lived happily ever after." Marriage is the end of the story. Nobody cares about Snow White once she's in the palace, installed as Princess Charming. (Possibly there is some trivial day-to-day interest in the kingdom about her clothes and good works.) The only reason why anyone outside Fairyland would be interested in the Charming Family would be the debut of Snow White's lovely Single daughter.

Single people, although your lives are uncertain and perilous, they are full of adventure. But many Married people have ugly monster homes in planned communities and two cars instead. Zzzz. This 17th century attic gig I have is kind of rare, and you'll have noticed I spend an awful lot of time thinking about Single people. It's not just because you need support; it's because you are inherently interesting.

Nobody in the Nine Companions of the Ring was married. The ones who did get married waited until the adventure was over.

9. Being Single means you are free to meet a man (or seek out that religious community) who really makes your heart sing and makes you laugh all the time. It is true that you have no way of knowing if you will meet such a man, but at least if you are Single you will be available if/when he comes along.

And really, I know you are willing to wait because if you really wanted to get married for the sake of getting married, you could do so in a matter of weeks by putting an ad in the paper of any Third World Global South newspaper. Seriously.  (Don't mention this in front of a really desperate friend, however, at least not without reference to the last 30 cases of a First World Global North woman being abandoned by her husband after she lavished thousands of dollars/pounds/euros on him and his family.)

Add any other suggestions in the combox. Alternatively, write therein what you really like about the Single Life.

Personally, I really miss the laundry chute in my parents' bathroom and my mum's big ol' Canadian washer-dryer set. Now I have to hump a bag of laundry down a million stone stairs and through a damp and haunted dungeon to a gloomy ex-servants' hall and stuff it in a tiny, British washer-dryer that, more often than not, destroys my underwear.  When I was Single, all I had to do was shove my clothes down the aforementioned chute and a day or two later I would have clean, sometimes ironed, never destroyed clothes. It was a Single Life miracle.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013
It is official.  Your ATT cell phone is now working at The Basin.  Repeaters were installed in both the A-Frame and Black Mountain Lodge.  Based on all the beeping and ringing my phone is doing now, I think the service must be pretty darn good.  There are opportunities for other carriers to piggy back on these repeaters.  At this time, I am not sure when the other carriers will be on board.

In this process, we also increased our overall capacity for digital communication.  The wifi service and capacity is much greater.  I look forward to that first big Saturday in the A-Frame when everyone tries to download a video at the same time and tests the real capacity.  Let me know about your experiences with both the cell and wifi coverage.

Escaping the Clutches
Today I wish to return to the Seraphapalooza list of questions. The second and third concerned what to do if you or your friend is already stuck in a relationship with a bad guy. And I keep thinking about negging.

What is negging? Negging is when a man erodes your self-confidence by insulting you with a smile, so that you aren't really sure if he is insulting you or not. And it is the most famous technique of the Pick-Up Artist movement, a movement born of the Sexual Revolution and men's competitiveness with other men. If you think the PUA movement hates women, and it does, it also hates men, dividing them into "alpha males" and "betas." It is a sort of false religion with a banal central myth. Here's the central myth:

Women long to be dominated by men who provide excitement and sexual thrills, pleasant or unpleasant. Such men are called alphas, and because they are smart they have sex with as many women as possible until they feel like marrying someone young, beautiful and relatively untouched, if they want to risk marriage at all. Marriage is more the business of betas, nice guys that women marry after they have been dumped by alphas, and the betas are suckers because the odds are that their wives will get bored, have extramarital affairs with alphas, divorce the betas and take them to the cleaners. So don't be a beta. 

This religion was founded in the 1990s, and its adherents keep a low profile, except online, so female you will rarely know you have met one, unless the words "alpha" and "beta" escape his lips or you are in a bar, picking at a plate of chips while waiting for a pal, and a stranger comes smiling up to you and says, "Ah! A woman who clearly isn't afraid to eat what she likes!"

Women debate whether or not negging actually "works", i.e. gets a woman's attention and makes her try to make the man like her. Some point out that these days women are impressed if a stranger has the courage to speak to us at all. Others observe that when a woman is feeling battered by life, she'll respond positively to almost any non-violent one-on-one male attention. But still others ruefully admit that negging seems to work on them. And I believe them.

I also believe there is a direct connection between insults, lowered self-confidence and being stuck to a guy like glue. I think it may have something to do with parents. We usually spend the first 20 years of our lives with our parents, and our parents sometimes build us up, and sometimes tear us down, and as kids we put up with it because what else are we going to do? So we desperately try to please our parents and feel a thrill of pleasure when they are happy and praise us. Meanwhile, our parents are not perfect so we are often surprised and hurt when they yell at us, not because we have done something wrong, but because they are in a bad mood. And being kids we might not know that and just get confused and blame ourselves anyway to take a weird comfort in believing ourselves to have any control of our lives. Blaming ourselves for the irrationality of people we find attractive (perhaps because they remind us of our parents) can continue into adulthood--one reason why parents should apologize to their confused and hurting children for their own stupid mistakes or bad temper.

(I took an oath as a child not to forget as an adult what it is like to be a child. To be a child is to be often bored, to do stuff you do not want to do very often, and to feel completely powerless. The last part is the worst.)

Women with truly abusive parents often end up with abusive men because they think abuse is normal and how people you love are supposed to behave. It's very warped, but there it is. If you spent 20 years with your mother telling you that you'll never amount to much, there's a good chance you'll end up with a man who will tell you you're nothing. You've been programmed, as if by a cult, and the best thing you can do, if you had a not-good-enough mother or father or both, is to go into therapy as soon as you can, to be re-programmed. You need the voice in your head to stop telling you you're crap and to start telling you the truth.

Meanwhile, there are other voices around us. These are the voices of those family members who really do love us in constructive ways and our friends. These are the people we need around us when we meet a guy to whom we feel attracted, especially if he seems to be at least somewhat attracted to us. All kinds of emotions cloud our reason, and so we depend on the clear-sightedness of family and friends. Family and friends can say "Handsome is as handsome does" more easily that you can because to you the entire world has shrunk to one magnetic presence.  

Of course, there is only so much a friend can do and say. If you are going out with a guy who belittles you and makes you feel less confident and that you are lucky that a guy-as-great-as-him cares about you at all, since no other guy would, your family and friends are eventually going to get mad at you. If they don't like him, and they can't see you unless you're with him, they might stop seeing you at all. This is the worst thing that can happen to your sense of autonomy because you will lose the voices that say "You don't deserve to be treated the way he treats you."

Ultimately, the responsibility for getting out of a bad relationship rests with you, and that can be very difficult. Very difficult. After a few attempts, the only way I escaped a very bad relationship was to tell my spiritual director all about it and to seize onto his words "You never have to see him again."

This was a complete revelation, but it was absolutely true. If I wanted to, I could have sat there in that office until I was carried out, clutching the chair. And as I was traumatized, that actually was a possibility. At some point I called out for sandwiches. I don't think my poor spiritual director was expecting that, poor man. But as a matter of fact, I never did see that man again. Never spoke to him. Never called him. Never emailed him, except to say I never wanted to see him again and he could pick up various items at the campus police station.

Now that is a rather extreme way to end a relationship, and I really think the best thing to do is to promise oneself not to get attached to any otherwise attractive man who insults you, and to report any insults to your best friends at once, so they can tell your addling brain what a jerk he is. Because although many women are turned off at once by men who insult them, I fear that other women gravitate towards them in an attempt to prove they are wrong. It's awful, and it's sad, but it's true and one of my readers was raped by a man like that. He said something like, "You look like the kind of girl who would be afraid to be alone in a room with a guy like me." And I don't think I will forget her email until the day I die.

Update: I live in Scotland, so I should say something about banter. I am at a critical distance from banter at the moment, as I have been in Toronto, where people are rather more gentle and polite than they are in Edinburgh. (B.A. was taken aback by the humour on Canadian television, which he thought overly anodyne and not particularly funny, and he was surprised that his in-laws were so entertained by it.)

Banter is good-hearted ribbing, and Scotsmen usually love it. Non-Scots, however, don't necessarily love it, particularly when it takes the form of men ganging up on women to tease them about relationship or sexual stuff. I have a friend who suffered very much at work from men teasing her all day long, under cover of "banter," about sexual stuff. And I know a woman who finally told her partner to stop using "banter" to belittle her to their friends at dinner parties. It was driving her crazy.

Scottish banter begins at the gates of whichever Canadian flight is leaving for Scotland, and I was greatly amused last year when a group of Scottish strangers gave a man they'd been friendly with hell for flying "Club class." This year, however, I was not so amused when the people in "Club class" were invited to board, and a Scotswoman behind me snarled, "If ye're no' Club class, ye're the scum o' the airth." To which I thought, Oh, get over it. They chose to pay the extra money. You have nothing to complain about.

And Now I'm Sick

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not a good weekend for Auntie, no.

Update: Excellent article by Hilary White about Cardinal O'Brien on LifeSite, and someone else demands to know who his accusers are.

Grooming in Lenawee Parks

The cat drivers have pioneered several good routes in Lenawee Parks.  I use the name Lenawee Parks to describe the big area that includes West Gully, East Gully, Cabin Glades, Dragon, and Lenawee Parks proper.  This is an area with lots of terrain variability, some sweet lines, and ever-changing routes.  I particularly like skiing some of the trees on the far Eastern side.  There are several micro-gullies in the area.  Skier tip -The left side of all the gullies tends to really catch snow.

East Zuma

Monday, February 25, 2013
The skiing in Montezuma Bowl continues to improve.  Upper Larkspur, Shining Light, and Columbine are the core routes right now.  Ski Patrol put in a hiking route to provide more access to the Upper 14'ers.

Bliss ~ A Fine Wedding Fair

Spend a day getting creative ideas and learning practical tips from local experts to help you in your wedding planning journey. Bliss is an event hosted by Hill City Bride and aimed at helping you get the most out of your wedding experience. During the event, enjoy educational seminars, a vendor showcase, catered food and menu idea bar, panel discussions, a fashion show, photo booth, door prizes and even a honeymoon giveaway! Space is limited, so register today!

A Fine Wedding Fair
Sunday, March 3
1:30pm - 5:30pm
Tresca on 8th
724 Commerce Street
Lynchburg, VA
Cost: One ticket for $25 or two tickets for $45

Images courtesy of StoneBlue Productions.

StudioWed Atlanta Bridal Bootcamp

Ready to sweat? Join StudioWed vendors and brides for some complimentary fitness fun during StudioWed's Bridal Bootcamp! Whether you’re walking the aisle, supporting the bride or just need to boost your routine, this is your chance to try out all the hip, hot new workouts all over the city. Sip fun post-workout cocktails, register to win cool giveaways and leave with a great gift, compliments of our wonderful friends at StudioWed! The event is free but registration is required. Sign up now to secure your place for this fun event!

StudioWed Bridal Bootcamp
March 12th, 2013
1000 Marietta St. NW
Suite 216
Atlanta, GA 30318

StudioWed Atlanta Bridal Tea at The Biltmore in Atlanta

Join StudioWed Atlanta for an elegant bridal tea with cake tasting, inspiring table designs, and an afternoon of fun for brides, her mom, and bridesmaids. Fascinators and hats optional. Register to attend online at EventBrite.

StudioWed Bridal Tea
The Biltmore
March 3rd
817 West Peachtree Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308

Bliss by Monique Lhuillier Trunk Show at Alexia's Bridal Boutique

Monique Lhuillier's gorgeous Bliss bridal collection will be on display at a trunk show March 8th and 9th, 2013 at Alexia's Bridal Boutique in Raleigh, NC. Appointments are limited. Call today to schedule your time to see these amazing dresses!

Monique Lhuillier Bliss Collection Trunk Show
Alexia's Bridal Boutique
March 8th-9th
Appointments Necessary
400-100 W. North Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Image courtesy of Alexia's Bridal Boutique.

5" New

Sunday, February 24, 2013
5" new, still snowing, great forecast, Loveland Pass open, cool.


Saturday, February 23, 2013
Had a couple of good runs over on The Spine and The Face today.  With the recent 2" and a kind wind, those places are filling up.  As you are skiing the big Pallavicini trail, the area breaks into three main zone.  The gully to the skier's right is Main Street.  The broad open area to the skier's left is The Face (or Pali Face).  The ridge line separating The Face and Main Street is The Spine.  Both The Spine and The Face are notorious for catching lots of soft wind packed snow. 

Eee! He's a Lonerganian!

The suddenly world-famous Father Dariusz Oko, cherubs.

The significance of this probably means very little to most of you. But--oh my goodness. One of the core tenets of Lonerganism is to stare at scary, scary facts and not run away. Another is to challenge and correct group bias. It's all about being rooted in reality, telling the truth and resisting the impulse to hide from truth.

Besides, I didn't know there were any Lonerganians in Poland west of Warsaw.

Remembering Martyr Singles of Good Will

Hans and Sophie Scholl (brother and sister) executed February 22, 1943. They were Lutherans and both open to Catholic thought (e.g. Newman) and Catholic anti-Nazi homilies. Hans was 25; Sophie was 22.

Grim Thought

The Single woman's worst nightmare is finding herself old, alone and homeless--or in public housing, where she will be menaced by young savages.

Many of us--perhaps because we first learn about life from books, babysitters or our grandmothers' fears--think that the great  protection from this fate is A Husband.

But I wonder how many widows there are who, despite these magic if temporary talismans, have found themselves old, alone and homeless or in public housing anyway.

I'm having a terribly busy day, so I can't find the statistic. Does anyone happen to know what percentage of widows in their country end up on welfare?

Update: The good news is that women are allowed to work, earn and sock money away into pension plans. Thought I'd better add that.

Designing and Inspiration Boards

Friday, February 22, 2013

Design is creating a space, a product or a function with harmony, balance and style.

Whether you are designing your home, a wedding, a work space or a product there are basic principles applied to make it work plus of course an eye for balance and style.

One thing I find always works is to gather various collected elements together to create an inspiration board and tonight I created this with some photos I have pinned on my interiors file on Pinterest.  

Working on a design project is always exciting whether it be a re-decoration of a room or the design of your wedding, party or event.

It is always a good idea to gather the colours, images and swatches together and you will quickly see a cohesive look and colours leaping out at you.

This time of year I am updating my own living spaces and as an interior designer and stylist I apply my own principles to my own home and thought it would be interesting to gather the images I have collected over the past few months, of interior spaces, together on one board.

It appears now I have to go out and buy lots of mint green and soft turquoise paints!

With storms predicted here in southern Spain tomorrow this actually sounds like a good plan.

Basin Day

I only made it to mid-mountain today, but people are telling me The Spine is some pretty fine skiing today.

Generation Benedict

A rare guest appearance for me on someone else's blog! Scroll down and check it out. I apologize for the two spelling errors and blame jet-lag.

Auntie Seraphic & the Local Girl

Dear Auntie Seraphic, 

A million thanks for your encouragement in the single life! And the many, many laughs your wisdom has brought to me! 

I certainly feel silly in  asking for your advice on this matter (only because I think I know the answer) , but I'm so confused in my own head that I need to hear it from someone besides my dear mother. 

Way before Christmas, an EF Mass-going-choir-singing-member (like me) friend of mine asked me to accompany her on a blind date. Her date was bringing two friends and she wanted to make it fun. The fellows were from out of town. I said sure, and promptly forgot about it all until the morning of ~ when I rushed down to the High Mass we were singing, where the fellows were meeting us. I wasn't sure what to expect from these boys. I know, I know, I don't want to be biased, but I've been going to the EF most of my life and never really had hope to meet a "polished possibility" there. They just don't seem to exist! In these gentlemen, though, I was blown away. So polished. Tweeds, three piece suits, courtly manners and gentle courtesy. They took us to lunch ~ it was hoot. All of us got on nicely. There was much of intellectual banter, wit, and verbal challenge. Refreshing and fun and elegant. 

When we had to part ways (we girls had commitments for the afternoon), they asked us ladies what to do in the city that evening ~ would we be open to joining them for something of our choice? Much to my embarrassment, my friend said, "I never go out; [Local Girl] knows all the hot spots in town. She'll organize it." (I do go out with girl friends, but only when I have the money! Its not like I party it up every weekend!) I had to think fast and we agreed to meet at my  'favourite' bar in the evening ~ an expensive, classy place that I've been to ONCE. So we did. 

It was snowing, and Christmas lights were up, and we had drinks, walked around in snow (new to them) had more drinks at another place, then dinner at another place. In the course of all this I never saw a bill ~ ever. When going on dates, I expect the gentleman to pay, but insofar as they already paid for lunch, I fully expected to purchase my own drinks. But I didn't have a chance. 

Dancing had come up as the next activity on the evenings agenda and my favourite place to dance is a foot-stomping western swing dancing bar. I like it, but my classy brother hates it ~ he says it's RAUNCHY and he'd never take a girl there. I think he's uptight. But I hesitated to take these fellows. They seemed pretty classy like my brother and I didn't want to 'scandalize' them ~ I mean, they only knew me as a skirted choir girl. But they insisted that they would only be happy to see us happy, and we should go because, even though they couldn't dance, they would do it for us. 

So we did, for about an hour or so. And they could dance, and I went crazy and Irish stepped danced when the TV screens got RAUNCHY (only once). We declared an end to good times at the tender hour of 11 pm. They wanted to know where we were going to mass the next day (Sunday) but we girls all had separate commitments, so wished them well on their journey home and said good-bye. 

The next evening, one of the fellows (the one I really liked) texted me to say he wished he had gotten my number in person and thank you for such a good time. I texted back and said "You're welcome. Have a safe journey home".  Then he said "We want to go skiing sometime" to which I replied, "Sure, we ski. I'll let you know of our next trip". So Christmas happened and then a few more weeks, and I invited them to join for a ski trip in the mountains. They called me to try and work out times they could come (they were planning to fly) but it didn't work out for their schedules. So, I let a few more weeks slip by, and then invited them via text message, to join us this weekend. I didn't hear back for the longest time ~ until Thursday when they said they couldn't make it. 

Now, my first instinct ~ in my disappointment ~ was to say, 'Hey, no worries! Have a nice weekend!' But I waited and realized that what I really wanted to say was, "I'm so sorry you won't be able to join us! We will go again. Perhaps another time." In other words (and this seems to silly to admit, even to myself) I wanted them to know I was sad that they wouldn't be coming. But then I didn't want to come across as a lonely, wolfish, prowling female, snatching for chances to take advantage of them. So I haven't said anything yet. Please advise on what the correct/honest response should be! 

My brother says that if they don't come back, they're not worth my attention anyway. I trust his judgement, but he also thinks its very funny that I took them dancing. I wish he would stop laughing about it because now I think I did scandalize them. 

My thought is that I'm 3- years old and I have nothing to lose my being perfectly honest in expressing my sorrow  at a lack of their company ~ and let them know they're welcome back. And then to leave them strictly alone, except to say a 'Hail Mary' when I catch myself mulling over it. 

I'm sorry if this is so long and tedious ~ I'm sure you've heard it a million times before. Please take mercy in a confused young woman who doesn't know her own mind and heart and do me the kindness of putting all this back on its feet for me. 

Thank you, Auntie. 

The Local Girl

Dear Local Girl,

The first thing that leaps out at me was that your friend was going on a "blind date" with a nice young man--and his friends. This is the first time I have heard of a 21st century date with three chaperons, two boys and a girl. Already we have misplaced categories. That was definitely NOT a blind date! Okay, it may have been blind, but it was not really a date.

The second thing that leaps out at me were that these boys were from out of town. They were literally "new in town" and "looking for a good time." This is natural, but also suggests that the so-called "blind date" was really just a vehicle by which they had a good time on their mini-break. If these were bad guys, this could have been a total disaster, but they were nice Catholic boys, so the good time they were looking for was perfectly moral and licit. It seems to me that they viewed you girls as Nice Girls, and indeed, fellow traditionally-minded Catholics with whom they would naturally want to be friendly.

Out-of-town men on holiday (vacation) are a completely different kettle of fish from local men meeting people as they go about their ordinary lives. A holiday is a holiday and therefore a suspension of life-as-usual. There is a kind of man who will do all kinds of bad things he would not do at home because there is no-one in the holiday town to hold him accountable. Now, fortunately, these men were not like that kind of man. However, they were still on holiday. And even if there had been a real "spark" between you and the one you liked, or even a whirlwind romance, it might very well have been that VERY illusory and transitory thing, "the holiday romance."

You did nothing wrong when the boys were in town. You were  a kindly, thoughtful hostess at a moment's notice, and you made sure the out-of-towners had a great time. Your one mistake was to assume the holiday friendship could necessarily continue if you took the initiative. In my experience, if a man really wants to see you, he will make sure he sees you. You have given the men enough encouragement to make them feel that they made a good impression. Now you must stop. No more contact. Leave them be. Chalk the whole thing up to nice guys wanting to have a good time among the kind of girls they respect while they were in your town and nothing else. Ships that pass in the night kind of stuff. (For the record, however, I don't think it appropriate to use a dating website for that, if that's what they did.) 

The lesson from all this is not to take men-from-out-of-town on holiday too seriously, and instead of trying to orchestrate reunions, to be pleasantly surprised if one of them contacts you a week or more afterwards. Meanwhile, I can see that this was a very exciting evening for you, upon which you are dwelling in a way that is making you feel unhappy, so the best antidote to your worrying and day-dreaming of what-could-have-been is organizing a fun evening with your real friends, local ones, ASAP!

I hope this is helpful.

Grace and peace,

Snowy Forecast

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Looks like snow in the forecast through at least Sunday night.  I had a nice hour of skiing this afternoon touring The Spine, Slalom Slope, Norway, a couple of Lower Mountain runs, and a few other spots.  Boy, the skiing is nice.  We reported 1" this morning and had at least that much during the day.  The place was fairly quiet and the light through the clouds was really cool.  Check out the sunlight over the top of Pali in the top photo.   Sunday may be shaping up as a big powder day.

Paul Gill Minister of Ceremonies Costa Del Sol

Your wedding day will undoubtedly be one of the most important and memorable days of your life and every last detail will be planned starting with your ceremony.

This is the most important part of your day and it should be a beautiful and meaningful event as you declare your love and commitment to each other sharing your special day with your family and friends.  

It is usually at this point I feel emotional, as do most of the wedding party!

Choosing the right minister for your wedding is so important and you have to ensure you are happy, relaxed and confident with the person who is conducting your special service as it will be etched into your memory for ever more.

We met Paul over 2 years ago, he was already conducting wedding ceremonies in Scotland and an almost retired Oestopath and Physiotherapist who was planning on spending more time here in Spain and who can blame him!  

Paul has a lovely character about him, he is friendly, warm and charming and we were delighted he was planning to spend time here and offer his services as a minister for weddings.

Paul has now officiated many beautiful ceremonies here in Spain over the past two years and here are some of his testimonials from recent couples.

Quote from Charlotte in the Confeti Magazine which featured her wedding
“Our ceremony was conducted by Paul Gill who I felt genuinely cared about our day. He was very flexible and nothing was too much trouble, he really was a delight to work with”.

Thanks for the service we loved it, although it was super hot! You really did make it personal to us and everyone was very impressed, including the photographer.

If any of our friends are getting married we certainly will be recommending you.
We said goodbye to the last of our guests yesterday so it was back to normal today and we are exhausted.
Thanks again for all you put into our special day.
Kindest regards

Just want to send a little message to say thank you so much for the wonderful service you held for us on Saturday it was absolutely perfect!
We all loved every minute of our day!
Thanks again
Lisa & Terry

It was a beautiful and very touching ceremony. Out of all the suppliers/ people involved on the day – you were the only thing we had no worries about. We were confident with your abilities and everyone commented on you afterwards with great compliments. Good job!!!!
You did a lovely ceremony and thanks for you & Pat being part of our day. I wish you well in your role in Spain and hope you have a successful time there.
Thanks and we might contact you for an anniversary sometime!!

Ellen & Martin

Extract from an email from a delightful Bride & Groom
Thank you once again for everything you did on the day, the ceremony was made perfect thanks to you. We would never hesitate to recommend you to other people (in fact we already have!) and wish we could do it all again :-)
Hope you enjoy,
Love Char & Tom x
Grooms grandfather:- That was the best marriage service I have ever heard by a mile.

If you would like to find out more about Paul pop over to his website or email him on

Nervous Guy Elucidates

Hello Seraphic,

Thank for posting my letter and giving me advice! Of course, I would like to exchange some help :-).

It was not really fear of rejection anymore, because at one point earlier in time I already had said to myself: it’s a very manly thing, to take the risk of being rejected. Even if you get a rejection, you can be pride of have been exposing yourself.

However, as I said, I was oversteering in the other way.

Just to get the picture correct: I was truly amazed by her, but didn’t yet fell (unilaterally) in love for her. But I know, that she would fit perfect in my preferences and I would definitely want to pursue her.

But why didn’t I just ask her out for coffee?

  • I had no real clue about how Christian women typically expect the interaction to develop:
Can I ask her out with no clear signals from her side (her just being very nice to me and talkative)?
  • I had no real experience with romantic real-life initiation of interest and/or rejection (just in online dating)
  • I have no male Christian friends with girlfriends who are examples to follow (5 are single, one met his girlfriend online)
  • I wanted to develop a friendship first (to play safe and at least becoming her non-romantic friend) and wanted to give her a chance to know me better, so that feelings on her side may develop slowly
  • I felt the need to offer her something really great by entertaining her, since she is such a great girl and surely would be demanding (and we have some very entertaining alpha-males in our group, to whom I felt some competition)

It sums up to: I am unexperienced, the culture is not really helpful and I wanted to be very clever. What do you and the girls think about it?

Nice greetings,

Nervous Guy

I think I should pull another Father Z and put out a line of "It's Just Coffee" T-shirts. Better yet, I may entitle the sequel to Seraphic Singles, "It's Just Coffee."

If a Single, unattached girl is friendly and talks to him, I think any Single, unattached guy may ask her out for a coffee without worrying that she will take this as an outrageous insult. Hopefully, if she wants to have a coffee with you, she will say "Yes" or "No" without her brain having snapped straight to a vision of either a potentially embarrassing or a dreamy marriage proposal.

Incidentally, this letter only strengthens my antipathy to dating websites. If dating websites are training men to respond to women only on the internet and making them afraid to talk to women in real life then...then...then.... I don't know what to say. Then again, I'm jet-lagged.

The problem with waiting and putting off asking a girl out so that she will become your friend and know you better is that the longer you wait, the more likely she will put you into the Friend Zone. When a guy is new and interesting, he will have instant cache as "the New Guy" and even, if you're lucky, "the New Cute Guy."

I am not sure "great girl" and "demanding" go together. The prettiest Single "great girl" I know demands only respect and being asked out on proper dates, e.g. for dinner. She doesn't like nagging or provocative, witty banter or flirtatious argument.

I think you can be successful with a "great girl" if you are willing to listen to what she actually says and become genuinely interested in her interests.  Sometimes the "entertaining" guys are too interested in "entertaining" that they forget about being quiet and listening.

Triumph Over the Atlantic

I always think the Atlantic is going to get me, but once again it has not! I even slept although I woke up in a panic two or three times, possibly because of turbulence. (An old man behind me on the shuttle bus from airport to city moaned that the turbulence was the worst he ever experienced; I slept through it all.)

So I am home and have discovered snowdrops in the woods and paint drops in the kitchen. A man has been painting our kitchen in our absence.

Altar Ego...An Event All About You

New York Times Best Selling Author Emily Giffin will be appearing at this year’s Altar Ego Event in Durham, NC on March 1st, 2013 from 6:30pm until 10pm, sponsored by Tre Bella Bridal and The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club. The evening's schedule is posted below and includes a book signing and meet and greet with Emily Giffin, cocktail hour, shopping experience and more!

Dubbed a “modern-day Jane Austen,” Emily Giffin has touched the hearts of millions of readers. Populated by emotionally charged and endearingly flawed characters that readers can’t help but root for, her six novels have been translated into 29 languages, with five million copies in print worldwide and three have been optioned for the big screen. The film of her first novel, Something Borrowed, premiered in May 2011 by the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski.

The Event Schedule
6:30pm:  Doors Open

6:30 – 7:30pm:  Book Signing and Meet and Greet with Emily Giffin
Cocktail Hour: Guests will be treated to a signature cocktail and hors d’oeuvres prepared by the amazing Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club. A cash bar will also be available.

Shopping Experience: During the cocktail hour, participating boutiques will be selling accessories/clothing.

7:45 – 8:15pm   Emily Giffin Presentation

8:15pm: Fashion Show - view the latest in ready to wear fashions from the Triangle's trendiest boutiques. The show will close with the latest in bridal fashions.

Participating Boutiques:
Ready to Wear Fashion: Hadley Emerson, Scout and Molly of Chapel Hill, Smitten Boutique
Bridal Fashion: Tre Bella Bridal, Bella Bridesmaid, Bernard’s Formalwear

The Charity:
The proceeds from the evening’s events plus a portion of the sales from the shopping experience will go to The Girls on the Run of the Triangle, NC.

Girls on the Run of the Triangle is a life-changing character development program for girls ages 8-12. They inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Through a combination of running, group activities and individual goal setting, girls are taught values that lead to a confident sense of self.

Altar Ego...An Event All About You
March 1st
6:30pm - 10pm
Hosted by Tre Bella Bridal
Tickets $50.00/person available at Eventbrite

Images courtesy of Tre Bella Bridal.

Blogging from the Airport

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Free wi-fi is one of my favourite things!

I am quite sleepy, though. If I had been more awake, I might have accepted the $400 to go to Heathrow instead and wait for different flight to Glasgow. But I am sleepy, and I am trusting to a sort of inner auto-pilot that is programmed to get home to the Historical House as swiftly and easily as possible. If all goes well, I will be there within 12 hours.

Random Thoughts from Airport:

1. It is totally unfair that I am not allowed to bring more than one litre of spirits into the UK. >:-(

2. Chanel No. 5 costs as much or more in the airport as it does anywhere else. >:-(

3. I identified myself as a traditionalist in the CR which means many readers may now think I am whackadoodle. <:-o nbsp="" p="">
Oh, well.

4. The most interesting question I got from a reader this visit was "Are you worried about over-sharing?" My immediate thought was, "Oh oh. What did I write?" Because I very often forget what I write. I remember my Canadian publisher telling me how brave I was, and I wasn't sure why. Then I was slowly and painfully trying to decode a bit of Anielskie Single back into English, and I was, like, "Eeek!"

Oh, well.

5. This was a very awesome visit. I think what made it so awesome is that B.A. was with me for the first week, and I worried less about money. Toronto is an expensive city, and any ride from A to B costs $3. This time I just shrugged and paid the $3. And paid it again. And again. And again.

Also I visited the CR and my old theology school and Catholic friends and poet friends and hung out with family and read Agatha Christie's short stories and ate Jewish food three times and Polish food three times. Both my sisters made brownies. I got to see every member of my family at least twice. I got to meet a friend's new baby and have learned conversations with her first one about Batman and Catwoman. I met blog readers and I met CR readers. I had a pedicure and a manicure--a gel manicure, so it should actually survive my trip home.  I piled all my books into a cube of boxes measuring 3 cubic feet and called the movers. I went to one Mass in the Ordinary Form and two Masses in the Extraordinary Form. I wrote a short Polish composition in which a reader discovered only one inadvertent obscene remark.

There was a lot of snow. I enjoyed the snow very much. But my boots are finished, so I threw them out and hope very much there is no snow in Central Belt Scotland. And now my flight is being announced.


Liancarlo Trunk Show at Alexia's Bridal Boutique

Don't miss the opportunity to see the gorgeous new bridal collection by Liancarlo at Alexia's Bridal Boutique in Raleigh, NC, March 1st and 2nd, 2013. Call today to schedule your appointment for this amazing event!!

Liancarlo Trunk Show
Alexia's Bridal Boutique
March 1st-2nd
Appointments Necessary
400-100 W. North Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

Image courtesy of Alexia's Bridal Boutique

Badgley Mischka Trunk Show at Chic Parisien

Don't miss the chance to view the amazing Badgley Mischka bridal collection at a trunk show this weekend at Chic Parisen bridal salon in Coral Gables, FL. Space is limited, so be sure to make your appointment to see these gorgeous dresses today.

Badgley Mischka Trunk Show
February 22nd - 23rd
By Appointment
Chic Parisen Bridal Salon
3308 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Image courtesy of Chic Parisien.

Romona Keveza Trunk Show at Joan Pillow

Don't miss the amazing Romona Keveza Couture Collection this weekend at Joan Pillow Bridal Salon in Atlanta, GA. The collection will be available at the trunk show and is exclusive to Joan Pillow Bridal. Appointments are limited, so please contact the salon to reserve your spot or visit the website for more information.

Romona Keveza Trunk Show
Joan Pillow Bridal Salon
February 21st-23rd
99 West Paces Ferry
Atlanta, GA 30305

Images courtesy of Joan Pillow Bridal.

Auntie Seraphic & the Nervous Guy

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

As a male former reader, I stopped reading your blog because it is your clear wish. However, I have a story, which might possibly be of interest to your readers. As a young Christian guy, it's not easy to fight against your fears and sometimes you really mess it up and feel having acted like a psychopath, like me recently.

I fought against myself being too afraid to pursue an amazing girl, though she was very kind to me. In the end, I oversteered in the other direction, and in heavily fighting against my fear, I nearly went crazy.

Since she is a very outgoing person, I sought to impress her with (excessive) [energy]. I didn't touch her, but in another way, I didn't respect boundaries.

I'm a good and sincere guy and I was shocked by my behaviour. So, in the end, I was even happy that she drew a clear line and doesn't want to continue to see me outside of church-related activities.

Looking back, I even betrayed myself because I played the role of being the cool and active guy, which I'm not. While I played the role, I also neglected my own wish to just be able to talk with her for longer than 30 minutes.

Part of the problem was that I wanted to win her friendship first while leaving the way open for more. So I was too afraid, to just ask her to have a coffee with me, since this would mean something like a date. Instead, I made too many idiotic proposals for group activities with 3, 4, or more people. In the end, I have just become egocentric....

For me it is nevertheless a good step forwards. Surely, I have oversteered, but at least I have begun fighting against my fear of approaching a nice girl.

If it is helpful, you can publish it. If not, I wish you much success with your important ministry!

Nice greetings from [German-speaking nation],

Nervous Guy


Dear Nervous Guy,

Listen, you might as well read my blog because the guys at my parish do, no matter what I say!  The combox, of course, is usually just for girls. 

I am not sure what it is that you did, but I can see that you are sorry.  Since you didn't touch her or, I presume, lock her in a room with you, it was probably not criminal or even crazy, just inappropriate and embarrassing. Of course you will respect her boundaries now. 

Your email will be of interest to my women readers, as they often wonder what men are thinking. It could be quite helpful to them. But something else would be very helpful to them and to me. Could you explain to us (it will be anonymous, of course) why it is that you were afraid to ask this nice girl out for a coffee?

You see, I have never been able to understand why young men are afraid of women, even of women who are friendly and kind. You are not the only guy like this; there are many, many Christian guys who seem to be afraid of women, and we don't understand why. Many of my readers wish very much that Christian guys would ask them out for coffee, and wonder why non-believing guys seem so much more likely to ask them out.  If you were to explain how you feel about it, this would be very helpful to us, and maybe we could help you, too.

Grace and peace,

Nervous Guy has not written back, but I contacted the two young male colleagues visible in my Facebook messaging window yesterday. Both are confident, outgoing and popular with girls. I asked them my question, and one wrote "Boys can be more sensitive than girls."

The other wrote that there is a terrible risk of rejection, or being told that the woman is already attached, which he said is even worse than being rejected. Approaching women at all is "one of the scariest things to do as a man, especially if you're sober."

This still puzzled me until a female friend pointed out that women feel rejected all the time, so we're a little more used to it than men. For example, many women just feel rejected because absolutely has nobody has asked them out. Most men don't feel rejected just because no woman has asked them out. To feel rejected, they actually have an incident. And when that incident happens, it really, really hurts.

"Like man flu," I suggested. 

Soft Pink Inspirations for Weddings

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sharing a soft pink inspiration board with you :)  

Adore the cream puffs tied with a pink satin bow and the wrist corsage for a bridesmaid perhaps.

If you love girly stuff do hop over to ZsaZsa Bellagio, full of fabulous images, inspirations and ideas.

Questions from Seraphapalooza

On Saturday evening I met four readers in a cafe near a corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets in Toronto and we had a good chat. (Then I rushed off to a dance club on Queen Street West!) I asked the girls what they thought I should write about in future posts, and here are the questions they proposed:

1. How do you avoid the bad guys?
2. If you can't avoid the bad guys, how do you avoid being sucked in by them?
3. How can you help your friends deal with the bad guys they've been sucked in by?
4. How can you help fellow Single friends overcome their negativity?
5. How can you prevent "pity parties" or derail them?
6. Boundary issues: how many details of a romantic relationships should a woman be sharing with her friends?
7. How can Catholic girls understand that just being Catholic doesn't mean we don't need to avoid occasions for sin?
8. The carelessness of girls around a guy they say is "like a brother."
9. The horrors of the self-proclaimed "Nice Guy."
10. How to deal with guys who keep contacting you, but never ask you out?
11. How to deal with guys from other cultures, whose behaviour is very confusing.
12. Should Catholics date non-Catholics?

These are all interesting questions, and I will post about 2-12 in the future. For the moment I will address the question of avoiding "Bad Guys."

1. How do you avoid the bad guys?

First of all, there is more bad behaviour than there are bad guys. Of course, there are some egregiously bad guys out there, but there are also a lot of good guys who are merely immature, moderately selfish, clumsy, thoughtless, loud, over-opinionated, aggressive and chippy. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a guy is a bad guy or merely a good guy who would be improved if someone dumped a bucket of water on his head.

I recommend that, instead of being worried about meeting men who are "bad guys", you make a promise to yourself never to be silent in the face of bad behaviour. Instead of worrying about rejecting people, promise to yourself that you will reject bad behaviour. If your boyfriend embarrasses  you in front of your friends, tell him that hurt you and you expect an apology. Don't contact him again until he apologizes. If a man stands you up or cancels a date without a good reason, tell him you are hurt by his lack of respect for you, and don't contact him again until he apologizes.

Good men apologize for hurting people. Bad men don't. Bad men hurt you and then tell you it was your fault because you made him hurt you. If some guy tells you he hurt you because you made him hurt you, walk out of the room. Never contact him again.

Second, don't chase after exciting, charismatic men. If you chase an exciting, charismatic man, you will just be one of the crowd of women who chase after him. Meanwhile, the only real way to tell if a guy is "that into you" is to wait until he contacts you, if he does. You can chat to him, and smile at him, and touch his arm, and invite him to your parties, but that's it. Any chasing behaviour and he may figure you're his to accept, reject, supply him with baked goods, write his essays, etc.

It hurts me to say this, but if you chase a bad guy, you're at least partly responsible for the misery that ensues. If you don't chase any guys, then you are not going to chase a bad guy. Chat. Smile. Touch arm. Invite to parties. End of.

Third, be very careful about the people with whom you associate. If you are a prison lay chaplain then, yes, you are going to associate with felons. But otherwise there is absolutely no reason for you to associate with criminals. If you hang out with girls who hang out with abusive or criminal men, then you are going to come into contact with those men and possibly their friends, too.

Fourth, always carry cab fare at night. If you go to a party and realize you are uncomfortable with what the men are saying or what people are doing, get out. Call a cab. Go home. Phone or email a friend when you get there. Vent your dismay.

Fifth, some girls stick with a bad guy because of their sexual sins, however small those sexual sins may look to a married lady of 39+. There are girls who promise themselves they will only ever kiss one man in all their lives, and that man will be their husband. Therefore, having kissed a bad guy, they  think they must stay with him forever or lose their cherished image of themselves as Pure.

Cherubs. Cherubs. Cherubs. Cherubs. The wonderful thing about a personal life is that it is personal. You don't have to tell anyone about it, ever, if you don't want to. You don't owe anyone but yourself and God a thorough investigation of all the things you have done in your life. And everyone makes mistakes. Everyone over sixteen has done, said or thought things they would not want reported in the papers. (St. Maria Goretti was twelve.)

If you are ashamed of whatever it is that you have done with Mr Not-So-Great, then ditch him explain to him why the relationship must change or end and go to confession. You are not damaged goods; you are a person. So never, ever, ever put up with a guy's bad behaviour and abuse just because you did whatever it was. No, you shouldn't have. Now stop. Your penance should be three Hail Marys, not endless months of mental anguish.

Sixth, it is normal to feel happy and safe in a romantic relationship. If you are in a romantic relationship and you do not feel happy and safe most of the time, something is seriously wrong. You may have read in storybooks that it is exciting and romantic for a man to have tirades and break things because he is jealous, but actually it is simultaneously frightening and boring.  There are authentic ways for men to show that they care about you, and overwhelming jealousy is not one of them.

Seventh, not all non-virgin guys are bad guys. Some are, of course. But most are not. Sexual experience does not = bad.  Lack of respect for you and other women = bad. The fact that a guy had sex with a past girlfriend does not mean that he is an evil, wicked, depraved despoiler of womankind. It means that he is a typical man of the 21st century, perhaps spoiled and weak, but perhaps not.

I agree that it is better and safer to hang out with men who have not been sexually active before marriage or, if they have been, don't like to talk about it and have a lot of respect for people who firmly believe that sex is just for marriage. Perhaps they feel the same way themselves now, or always did, but messed up.

Personally, I feel that a granola-eating, serial-monogamous lefty who thinks there was nothing wrong with sleeping with his girlfriends because it was consensual and they were fond of each other is safer than a man who uses prostitutes or p*rn or one-night-stands. The granola-eater at least associates sex with respect, affection and relationships; the guy who uses prostitutes or p*rn or one-night-stands associates sex with whatever is going on inside his head, which is mightily messed up.

Of course, you are probably more likely to have "The Talk" with Mr Granola than with Mr Humanae Vitae. The only appropriate response from either is "I respect your decision". Mr Granola is less likely to call you after this declaration of respect, not because he is a Bad Guy, but because he is Mr Granola and in his universe "sex is a healthy and essential part of dating."  The important thing is that he did not pressure you or make you feel terrible. If he did, he is indeed a Bad Guy and must be told off royally. The same goes for Mr Humanae Vitae if he does such things, the lousy hypocrite. And he is more culpable than Mr Granola if he doesn't call after "The Talk" because he knows better.

A Charming Grace Kelly Style Wedding in Sotogrande, Spain

Monday, February 18, 2013

We loved planning Chris and Lina´s wedding day and all of it was done via email and phone as Chris and Lina live in Jordan and could only pop over once before their big day to meet us.   

Chris´s parents have a home here and they had booked the Monastery in Sotogrande for the reception as they had seen the venue on our blog, but everything else needed to be arranged and the styling of their day designed.

Both Chris and Lina were very involved in the design and organisation of their special day and we emailed bridesmaids dress colours to select the right shade of pale pink, matched up bouquets, designed the cake table, the pew ends and worked on the whole day via emails and Skype chats.

What I found interesting about Lina was her style was very elegant and simple, a Grace Kelly, but this was not apparent at first. 

Lina knew what she liked but at times it was difficult to convey, finally we narrowed it down to a beautiful pale blush pink bow that finally leapt at me through the images she was sending me so we combined this idea with a white and silver palette, lots of candles and fairy lights and used the satin bow as a simple touch into the gorgeous stationery by Anoulka and wedding cake created by Sweet Things by Fi.  

I have never seen Lina´s shoes until I received these photos and giggle now as they are so perfect, just wish I had seen them before!

So finally the big day arrived and so did the storm clouds, which we often get here at the end of September, and the heavens opened and poured :(  

Onto Plan B and what a plan B it was, as not only did we have to move the entire wedding from the marquee, that was soaked, to the inside of the monastery, but also ended up dealing with emergencies including our pregnant make up artist crashing in the rain.  Luckily she was fine and has since had a gorgeous baby :)

It was at this point I was deep breathing, but Lina was a star voicing concern over the make up girl, but as any bride can imagine she was devastated and the day got worse before it got better, but Lina took everything with such grace and just kept smiling.

Finally the rain eased off as Chris and Lina embarked on their gorgeous ceremony at the Sotogrande church with a wonderful crowd of family and friends followed by a fabulous evening at the Monastery.

We are delighted to share these wonderful memories with you of the delightful Chris and Lina, courtesy of Mireia Cordomi Photography.