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Christina Gebel :
44 article(s)

Christina Gebel holds B.A.’s in psychology and theology from Saint Louis University as well as a Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from Boston University. After college, she spent two years as a full-time volunteer at a faith-based organization in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, performing standup comedy, and serving as a doula and Lamaze childbirth educator. She currently resides in Boston, working in the field of public health and serving as co-chair of the executive committee for the Catholic Extension Young Professionals of Boston.
March 26th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I love the Jesuits. I’m quite outspoken about this love, in fact. I often refer to myself as a “Jesuette,” a Jesuit cheerleader.
I’ve always liked the idea of taking something on during Lent (in addition to giving something up), and this year, I decided to both give up Facebook and take on deepening my relationship with God. Given my deep love for the Jesuits, it comes as no surprise that when I decided to work on my relationship with God during Lent, I turned to a dear friend, who is a Jesuit. After hearing where I’m at with God and where I’d like to be, my friend lent me his copy of the Spiritual Exercises. To be honest, I was quite touched. For a Jesuit to lend his personal copy of the Spiritual Exercises —…

March 24th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Steve Jobs was a visionary. A decade ago, I probably wouldn’t have admitted that. I’ve always been a loyal PC-user, and I never really got into the whole Mac craze. A couple things have softened me. One, I am a photographer, and I do think photo editing on a Mac is superior to editing on a PC and two, Steve Job’s death. Not to be morbid, but his death softened me.
In the weeks following the death of Steve Jobs, I was really impressed by the outpouring of testimonials from all over the world. I was more tuned into the news footage than I expected to be, actually. There was one line, however, that always stuck with me. I don’t remember where I read it, heard it, or even who said it, but it was something to this effect: Steve…

March 21st, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

When I was in grade school, I thought the season of Lent was there to make everyone miserable. We would sing these morose songs at Mass, like “Ashes,” and I remember sitting at the dinner table and imitating the sullen, deep voice of our organist singing the “depressing” (as I deemed them) lyrics: “gifts not fully given”… “dreams not fully dreamt” … “spring has turned to winter” … “sunshine turned to rain”… and so on. I remember weeks upon weeks of going to the Stations of the Cross and chanting and repeating the prayers over and over again. Some kid would inevitably faint from all the kneeling and being continually engulfed in incense. No one liked going to Stations of the Cross.…

March 19th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I’ve been writing a lot about how Facebook can negatively affect my life. Giving something up, it’s easy to notice the negative effects that dissipate. This week, I’ve been thinking about the good things that Facebook brings to my life.
One format that has been going viral on Facebook is lists. There’s a list for everything: “10 Rules for a Great Marriage,” “7 Things We Won’t Miss from 2013,” “32 Reasons My Child is Crying Right Now.” Buzzfeeds are aplenty (“44 Facts About U.S Presidents That Will Blow Your Mind”). We like lists. I like lists.
Because I like lists, I decided to write a short list of the good things Facebook has brought to my life that I’m more aware of, now that I’ve given…

March 16th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I was sitting at a party this weekend, and the topic of my giving up Facebook came up. This launched a discussion about each person’s experience with Facebook and how it has affected his or her life.
One friend shared a lament her parents shared with her: no one ever calls anymore. She told a story about how during one of the recent holidays, her parents noted that no one called anymore to wish their family a happy holidays. “They used to think it was a big deal that no one came over or stopped by to wish them happy holidays, and now, it’s no longer a big deal that no one comes over. No one even calls,” she said.
How true.
With each mode of new communication, we’ve put more and more distance between ourselves and others.…

March 14th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I have this list. Everything on it gets its own gold star. This list lives in my email inbox, and every day, I add to it. Every day, I get emails with articles that are fascinating and intriguing. I open them in the morning, star them, think I really need to read that, and close my computer and catch the bus outside.
This list has become quite long. They’re articles I’ve found, as well as articles people have sent me. Most of the time, I get these articles in the morning. Before I gave up Facebook for Lent, my morning usually consisted of eating cereal (a must), checking email, and going on Facebook. Sometimes I’d be late to catching the bus because I’d spend too much time on Facebook or get roped into some sort of gun…

March 12th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

As I mentioned earlier, this is my second time giving up Facebook for Lent. The first time, it was to prove to myself that I could do it (at all), and this time, I’ve decided to ask deeper questions. One moment that helped me to realize that my work with giving up Facebook was not done happened a few weeks ago, when a met a friend for dinner before class.
We met in the campus food court, and we had a lovely conversation about everything that was going on in our lives, where we hoped to go in the future, and other various topics. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and upon realizing that we both have the same dinner hour, we hugged, parted ways, and promised to get together for dinner again soon.
That night, I got back to my room and went…

March 9th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Anyone who’s on Facebook long enough soon realizes a trend. Yes, “what’s trending” but also a trend in the content of a newsfeed, for instance. It’s almost all good. It’s funny, it’s exclamatory, it’s sentimental, or perhaps even just neutral. Whatever it may be, it’s rarely ever bad. If it is bad, it’s somewhat risky. Yes, there’s an element of vulnerability in telling someone (or everyone) your bad news, but there is added vulnerability, here. Those who share bad news on Facebook can either find support or sympathy or sometimes judgment: “he shares too much,” “she’s being a Debbie Downer,” or “that was too much information.” Sure, some people have these same judgments…

March 7th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

My generation is one of the last, if not the last, to remember regularly using a landline. When the phone rang at my house, someone picked it up, and the rest of the family was usually in ear shot of the entire conversation. There was only so far you could go, literally. When someone called us, I could tell by the tone of my mom’s voice whether it was good news or bad news. When it was bad news, I remember pretending not to listen, but in reality, hanging on every word. If it was bad news, unless the person could come over, he or she always called.
Nowadays, the land of landlines is long gone. I’m going to have to explain them to my kids, along with the concept of a family sharing a phone, not a minutes and data plan. With the changing…

March 5th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I should start by admitting that this is not the first time I’ve given up Facebook for Lent. Note: this won’t be a blog about how hard it is to give up Facebook for the first time. This time around, I didn’t choose to do it to simply see if I could do it at all. I didn’t choose to do it because I was uninspired about what to give up for Lent this year and felt the need to hit replay (e.g., “I guess I’ll give up chocolate again this year.”).  This time, it’s for deeper reasons.
Facebook is a huge part of my life. It occupies my early morning hours before I leave for the day, waiting for the bus, riding the bus, waiting in line, taking a mental reprieve from lecture in class, killing time before dinner, and powering down…

February 10th, 2014
On Valentine’s Day, celebrate love and also reflect on what’s holding you back from loving more fully

Imagine getting a Valentine’s Day card that reads “Happy Valentine’s Day!” (on the front) and “What are you afraid of?” (on the inside).
Yes, I know. That is single-handedly the worst and scariest Valentine’s Day card. Ever.
Though it might seem ironic, I love all the Valentine’s Day hoopla. That’s right: I love going to CVS in the month of February. I love the cheesy gifts, the dozen roses, and the candy hearts. Yes, I’m that person who makes all the plush toys sing in the seasonal aisle. For many years, I found myself agonizing over which Hallmark greeting card to buy in the card aisle: Funny? Sappy? Romantic? Heartfelt?
However, now at age 28, I genuinely wonder if we are really getting anywhere…

December 4th, 2013
Rising above the immediacy of today's technological world during Advent

I finally got an iPhone. I often wait much longer than the average person to do things the average person is doing, like reading or seeing any of the Harry Potter series (and yes, my social life suffers after multiple HP references and the confusion that follows). I don’t know why I do it. Stubborn? Suspicious? Lazy? Perhaps a little of all three.
But my brother, the IT administrator in the family, made a commendable effort to convince me to get an iPhone, so I finally gave in. And of course, I love it. So much for being different.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a café with my friend and telling him that I distracted myself before falling asleep the previous night with thinking about how I might build an igloo if I was ever…

November 18th, 2013
Lessons learned from 12 years of keeping a gratitude journal

I distinctly remember the day I sat in my junior English class after returning from Christmas break. My teacher asked us what our New Year’s resolutions were for the year. To be honest, I can’t remember mine, but I remember a classmate’s: starting a gratitude journal. That sounded like a good idea to me, too.
Today, it’s been nearly 12 years since I made the commitment to keep a gratitude journal.
Over the years, what started as practicing gratitude slowly evolved into living a lifestyle of gratitude, two slightly different things. Think of it this way: When you announce to your officemates that you’re going to start running, you make a decision to run each day for so many miles (let’s face it, some days…

September 25th, 2013

I don’t usually share memes. I have nothing against memes. I just don’t want to be that person: the one who shares nearly every meme; the person who gets sucked in by a misattributed quote and serene landscape pairing. If I do share a meme, I’ve probably deliberated about doing so for at least five minutes, completed a hasty calculation of my meme-per-week rate, and actually thought it was pretty good, or quite funny.
One meme I did share was NBC’s tweeted photo showing the election of Pope Benedict versus that of Pope Francis. This photo, which was later debunked as misleading, was trying to make a point that technology has rapidly made its permanent home at every historic moment, even the election of a pope.…

September 16th, 2013

When my class of high school students wrote to the president, I had high hopes. I could see it now: I get a stately letter — very official looking — and gingerly open it to find a beautiful handwritten note from Barack Obama himself. It would be the ultimate fist bump, one you could frame and brag about for years. Well, no such thing happened. We got a generic letter, an electronic signature, and a picture of Bo, the dog, which was a nice touch. I framed it anyway. While I’ve given up my quest for a presidential letter, I’m not entirely ready to throw in the towel. Lately, I’ve been thinking I should start writing to Pope Francis.
The world has been watching as the pope has made a number of phone…

August 21st, 2013

When I made the decision to go to graduate school, I only had two examples to help me anticipate the experience: friends who had gone back to school and Adam Sandler in Billy Madison.
While Billy Madison is certainly entertaining, I dwelled more on the experiences of my friends. One thing was clear: graduate school seemed like undergrad on steroids. I recall undergrad being difficult, but it seemed like this idyllic time in life with perfectly manicured landscapes, late-night dining options, bike racks, and your friends all living just a block away. Sure, there were homework and papers. However, it seemed like a big playground for young, or “emerging,” adults. It was real life, but it wasn’t.…

March 7th, 2013

Exactly one year ago, I was in the middle of a 40-day Facebook fast for Lent. Naturally, I found a new obsession: compulsively checking my email. It was the final step in a long process. The test was taken, websites combed over, e-applications submitted, and emails with an “.edu” extension opened immediately. Now, it was time to decide where to go to graduate school.
I did the “safe” thing and applied to a lot of schools (eight, in fact). I wasn’t sure if the admissions staff would buy my story: Theology and psychology undergrad major who taught English for three years, worked for an economics department for two, and then decided to pursue … public health? Of course, it all made sense to me. Was it going to…

July 16th, 2012

Oftentimes, when I wear one of my sorority sweatshirts or T-shirts, friends say, “You were in a sorority? I didn’t know that,” with a look of surprise. “Why are you surprised?” I ask. They reply, “You just don’t seem like that type.”
Fight it though we try, it’s hard to escape life without having stereotypes or preconceived notions about the groups we belong to. I am certainly not exempt, myself. Living in a large metropolis like Chicago, it’s easy to see someone on the train, learn where someone lives — or even what baseball team they cheer for — and not register some sort of thought. Everyone is, consciously or otherwise, asserting some piece of his or her identity, which is being…

April 25th, 2012
A doula's view of new life and the Paschal Mystery

I love to talk about birth. A lot.
I assume everyone wants to hear about birth, so at social gatherings, with people I’ve hardly met, I find myself telling birth stories, bodily fluids included. Half of the crowd listens politely before dismissing themselves to “get a refill” on a drink, often finding a more normal person to talk to on their way to the kitchen. The other half presses in, wide-eyed with fascination. What can I say? I’m a doula.
Doulas are an ever-growing presence in navigating the healthcare choices in today’s world. The word doula comes from the Greek word for female servant. Doulas provide physical and emotional support for laboring women. Many people will seek…

March 26th, 2012
Reaching out to a growing number of hungry people

In the shadow of what was once a functioning residency for priests, a line forms toward a door. Word has spread by now, and everyone knows the day and time to be there. They also know what to expect to receive.
This scene is a familiar one every Friday in the Little Village neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago. Donna Oborski, R.N., has taken on the health and needs of Our Lady of Tepeyac parish and surrounding neighborhoods since she assumed the role as parish nurse in 2009. The parish food pantry, which opened in 1995, has been growing steadily over the years. Feeling strongly about keeping the pantry open and growing, Oborski took over its operations when she came on staff. At the time, the pantry was serving,…

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