Monday, June 18, 2018

My Crazy (But Perfect) Consecration Day Adventure

I've been wanting to write this post for several days now because my consecration day was pretty crazy yet perfect in its own way.

On June 9th, the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (to whom I have a special devotion), I consecrated myself to Mary... but the events that led up to it were something straight out of a movie.

First, I felt poorly so I was unable to go to the 8 a.m. Mass and 8:30 a.m. confession time at a nearby parish. We moved that to the 4 p.m. confession and 5 p.m. Mass but, of course, I started feeling really sick around 1:30 p.m. and it didn't let up by the time our 3:30 p.m. departure time came.

I was (as my British friends say) gutted! I had wanted to go to confession, Mass, and then do the consecration after Mass and I didn't think it was going to be possible... so I pulled a Hail Mary (almost literally).

I began praying the Memorare Emergency Novena (praying the Memorare 9 times back to back). I told our Blessed Mother, "You know how much I want to do this; how much I want to go to confession, Mass, and then do the consecration. Please let it happen if it's God's will."

Luckily for me, I began to feel better about an hour or two later... just in time for the monthly (low) Latin Mass at the same nearby parish. It was absolutely perfect for me. It was my preferred Mass, with one of my favorite priests.

When I saw that we would be able to make it, after all, I began to get ready ahead of time, just to avoid being late to confession since it's only half an hour before Mass begins. This is when the real adventure began.

Since I hadn't felt well enough earlier in the day (I took a test drive in the morning to be sure), I hadn't been able to get gas for my car... and the needle was dangerously close to that dreaded "empty" symbol. Of course, we left with enough time for me to drive to a gas station along the way... but we didn't think we'd hit a few snags.

First, we had no cash on us. At least, not enough for gas. I tried paying with a pre-paid credit card but it was declined at two different gas stations despite having enough (and then some) for gas. We were scrambling, trying to get to a gas station and still make it to confession on time.

I tried a gas station on the street we would take to Mass... and gasoline spilled all over my leg, feet, and ballet flats. It seemed that whoever had used the pump before I did had left some gasoline in it and, as soon as I took it, it spilled all over me. I reeked of gasoline, which made me nauseous. Still no gas... and now we had no additional time to get to the church.

I got into my car, worried about the gasoline smell which was really making me feel sick, and I told my mother, "I don't know if we're going to make it. Not without gas in the car... and not with me feeling as poorly as I'm beginning to feel." Still, there was something in me that told me not to give up.

"Let's see if we, at least, can't get to the parish. I can always call AAA to bring me gasoline if we get stuck somewhere," I said. I started asking Mama Mary and my Guardian Angel to help us -- all the while I was getting very lightheaded from the gasoline.

I kid you not, about a block from the gas station, the smell of gasoline automatically disappeared. I even pulled over just to make sure it wasn't just me going nuts. lol. Nothing smelled, my shoes were somehow completely dry (as was my leg and skirt), and it was as if I'd never had that incident. Interesting.

We somehow managed to get to the parish without any problems despite the needle practically yelling, "You're running on empty, child!"

I was just happy to have gotten there... and on time! We were first in line for the confessional but there were two people who'd arrived before we did so I let them go first. It's only fair, and we were still able to make it into the confessional before Mass began. Score!

A few minutes before Mass began, I started feeling sick again. "Oh no," I said to myself. "It's probably the heat." (side note: it had been nearly 90 that day and heat and don't mix.) I stepped outside and drank a bit of Gatorade in case it was a blood sugar issue. I had enough time before I was set to receive the Eucharist so I knew I could. I had also anticipated the possibility of little to no air conditioning in the parish so I took one of those hand fans and used it during Mass.

I felt so dizzy and lightheaded and, well, shaky, on the walk down the aisle to the kneelers to receive the Eucharist. I was so worried that I was going to faint waiting in line but, luckily, nothing happened. I received the Eucharist (I might've also cried, lol) and thanked God for the blessing of being able to attend confession and Mass despite the obstacles. Not only that, I was so happy I was able to attend a Latin Mass, which I hadn't been able to do in months due to my health being the way it had been in recent months.

After Mass ended, I sat in the back and did my consecration. I was on cloud 9... and I'd totally forgotten about the lack of gasoline in my car. lol. Somehow, we were able to make it to the grocery store we frequent (for food and for cash) and then I was able to get some much-needed gasoline. I don't know how other than Mama Mary and my Guardian Angel looking out for us. It was dark by this time, too, which I'm not too keen with. I don't like driving at night because people tend to drive more erratically out here between the hours of about 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Looking back at it, it was the perfect day. Beyond the Mass and everything (which was the cherry on top of a great day), I stopped trying to rely on what I could do to make sure I could get myself to Mass and asked Mama Mary for help. I began to use that complete trust in her that I'd been cultivating over the past 33 days. Basically, I put my money where my mouth was. Did I truly trust Mama Mary to come through for me when I most needed her? I had to show it... and I did.

It's been a little over a week since my consecration and I've already begun noticing some changes in me. I had been told that there would be but I never anticipated it being as noticeable as it's been. I'm so grateful for the changes I've already made... and the shortcomings I've become all too aware of.

There is a lot I need to work on. I've already taken the steps to make sure I can reverse some of the terrible habits. I still slip up, of course, but it's a new beginning and I look forward to seeing what else Mama Mary has in store for me; to see how she will help me grow in my relationship with her son.

Anyway, that's it for now. I have so much I want to share -- I've had an interesting last couple of days -- but I also have a lot of things to do offline so I should get to them. I'll try to blog as much as I can this week, especially since I'm on a social media fast until Sunday. :)

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Friday, June 8, 2018

I Finally Have a Diagnosis... and a New Adventure

After 11 years of subpar medical attention...

... 11 years of bouncing from one doctor to another...

... 11 years of my body slowly losing energy and being plagued with new symptoms, year after year...

... 1 year and 3 months after the fatigue began overwhelming me...

... 7 months after St. Giuseppe Moscati appeared in my life and wouldn't stop popping up into my life...

... 6 months after I changed my entire medical team (doctors and hospital)...

... 5.5 months after I made the decision not to return to the SLP field...

... 3 months of waiting between rheumatology appointments...

... 3 weeks after my last E.R. visit and consequent Anointing of the Sick...

... One week after my Jesus Year began...

... 2 extra days of waiting for the doctor to call me back with an official diagnosis...

... Countless years, months, and weeks of collective prayer and we have an official diagnosis: fibromyalgia. I found out yesterday but I wanted to wait at least a day before I wrote about it to process everything.

Suddenly, everything leading up to the diagnosis makes sense.

Now I understand why God didn't want me to continue down the SLP path. It's a high-stress field... which exacerbates the physical and mental fatigue and brain fog for someone with fibromyalgia. That's why I fought hard and was always falling asleep while I was trying to finish the program; the stress was incompatible with the condition. If I had continued until I finished the degree, I would've been several more thousands of dollars in debt for a career that I wouldn't have had the energy to continue. (side note: I'm already up to my eyeballs in student loan debt for all I did manage to do.)

Now I understand why St. Giuseppe Moscati kept popping into my life. It was shortly after I asked for his intercession that I was able to transfer to my current PCP who then sent me to the rheumatologist who gave me the official diagnosis. I'm also seeing a hematologist for my low platelets and now I'm wondering if there's a connection between the two.

Now I understand why I've been having so many stomach problems... why I've suddenly developed allergies and intolerances to foods I had previously been able to eat without problems... why I need 9-10 hours of sleep per day to not feel so fatigued... why I feel every worse the day after I exercise... why my body randomly aches and why I have trouble simply standing for more than 5 minutes or even walking on some days.

Everything makes sense! Cue the sense of relief and even of happiness that we finally have an answer to our prayers!

What does this diagnosis mean for me? It means figuring out how much physical activity I can do without overexerting myself to point of physical exhaustion that will take at least a day to recover from. It means paying close attention to which foods make my fatigue worse and which I can no longer eat. It means a lot of rest and being okay with it. It means finding ways to bring and keep my stress levels down since that seems to be my biggest foe and the thing that will physically and mentally debilitate me most. It also means that I have to full rule out the SLP path and seek another career path... or find more work in the writing field since it's what I seem to do best (according to others). I want to pay back my student loans so I need to find a way to do so.

What it doesn't mean? It doesn't mean I'm broken. It doesn't mean I will always be bedridden. It doesn't mean that I can't eventually get married and have children if it's God's will for me. It doesn't mean that I can't explore other career paths. It doesn't mean that I'm forever doomed to a life confined in the house. It doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the same things I've always enjoyed; I'll just need to figure out how to do it with some energy limitations. Most importantly: it doesn't mean that I can't have a "normal" life. 

There will be an adjustment period which actually began when my doctor order that I rest as much as possible. What she suggested back in December of last year is what I have to continue doing: resting BUT not being physically inactive. In fact, it's recommended that I stay active but to figure out what my limits are and rest when I feel like I've overdone it. I also have to continue to keep my stress levels down. Doing all of that -- and eating and sleeping well -- should help tremendously.

I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm excited! Yes, I will have to change a lot of things. I can no longer Lindy Hop or hike for extended periods of time but I will still be able to do other things I've always enjoyed. I'm not seeing it as a loss of opportunities but an opportunity to explore the other gifts God has given me (and us out in the world). I'm seeing it as a brand new adventure that will enrich my life so much more than when I was "healthy."

So, whoop, there it is!

Thank you all so much for the countless prayers every time I would feel under the weather and had off days. I know all of your prayers helped me finally get my diagnosis and continued to give me the courage to keep going when I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally unable to continue. And, thank you, St. Giuseppe Moscati, for interceding for me. I'm sure our Blessed Mother also played a massive part in all of this since it happened during my consecration to Jesus through her (tomorrow is consecration day!).

Now, to quote one of my favorite soon-to-be saints, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati: Verso l'alto! To the heights! Let this new, exciting chapter of my life begin! :D

That's it for now. I hope you all had a lovely week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Monday, June 4, 2018

Why I Decided to Leave "Catholic Twitter"

No, that isn't a clickbait title; I really am going to tell you why I decided to leave "Catholic Twitter."

First, I want to say that this blog post (though not the decision which was made weeks ago) was inspired by this Twitter thread by an online friend who seems to have had a similar experience to mine.

I've been on Twitter for over a decade. "But your account is only months old!" you may argue, looking at my account details. If this is you, you're a new follower who didn't know me as "nerdwriter"... the girl who refused to use her actual picture as her avatar... who was known as "Emmy" for years before she used her given name. My current account is a second public account I created after I deleted my first one, which I had from January 2008 until October 2017. I probably would've stayed off of Twitter for good except I returned to freelance writing and I needed a public social media account.

In the decade-plus I've been on Twitter, I've seen the evolution of "Catholic Twitter." In the beginning, there were a couple of us who were Catholics and found each other and made a little online community. Matthew Warner (creator of Flock Note) created a list of Catholic folks on Twitter and we all begin following other Catholics. We were a nice, little group for a while before Twitter really exploded.

I still remember the "great flirt-a-thon" of 2010 and again in 2012-13 when single Catholics were testing each other to see who fancied each other. I managed to survive that, thankyouverymuch. lol. I remember the camaraderie... the support... the laughter. I remember the hours-long conversations some of us had between 2009 and 2012. I remember the massive support I got when my father passed away in July 2009. I still get warm fuzzies thinking about the congratulations when I (finally!) graduated college after years of putting off my degree to help take care of my dad as well as taking care of myself. Those days have been long gone and I do miss them.

Some of you may be new to Twitter so you may not remember a time when "trad" Catholic Twitter, "weird" Catholic Twitter, "liberal" Catholic Twitter, and *insert adjective* Catholic Twitter didn't exist but it existed. None of us judged each other based on our liturgical preferences. When we disagreed, it was done respectfully. There were no memes, no ridiculous online lingo, and (most importantly) no division.

I'm not sure when "the great divide" occurred but it's only gotten worse in recent years. Sometimes I feel like I can't say anything because I'll get attacked... and I do, sometimes. I will ask or say something without malice or bad intention and someone will twist my words and make it into something ugly. I hate that. I love people and can usually let things slide but, golly, even I have my limits.

Several weeks ago, I was attacked over something that was so insignificant and innocent that I knew I had to leave "Catholic Twitter." Of course, you can't actually leave it in a physical sense but I've opted to be careful about who I follow (muting account and unfollowing others). I don't pay attention to all the tweets I see on my timeline either because some of it is just toxic to my spiritual life.

Look, I get it. I get looking for and following people with whom I agree with because they understand you. I know how much "easier" life is when you surround yourself with like-minded people. However, it can also become dangerous. You can beginning thinking that your way is right and the other person is wrong; "how are *insert name* think that?!"

I make it clear that I prefer the Extraordinary Form Mass. If I can't get one, a solemn OF Mass will suffice. I don't like the clapping, the music, and a number of other things but I will take one of those Masses over no Mass at all. Still, if I can get myself to a Latin Mass, it's my preference by a long shot. I veil or, at the very least, keep my head covered with a beret, scarf, or hat. Sure, I also prefer the "feminine way of dressing" (read: dresses and skirts) as well, which somehow is associated mostly with the "trads." I prefer the "traditional" in my liturgical preferences so I say I "lean trad" but that's as far as I'll go in labeling myself... and I'm still not comfortable doing it.

I don't align myself with the "trad" community online because of poor experiences I've had in recent years. I won't hash things out. I'll just say that, spiritually, it's unhealthy for me to only read blogs, interact with social media accounts, and/or surround myself with "rad trads" that lean so far right that there's a lot of mud-slinging at other Catholics and even Pope Francis. Do I agree with everything he says and does? No, but, whether you like it or not, he's still the Pope so let's show a bit of respect for him as the vicar of Christ, huh?

I also don't align myself with the "liberal" community. Sure, I believe in purchasing ethically (which is apparently a pet cause of the "Catholic left") but it has more to do with upholding the dignity of the human beings that create and/or harvest goods I purchase. This will be a future blog post itself. I still wear pants which is apparently a "trad Catholic" no-no. Sorry, but I can experience debilitating pain when it gets too cold (yes, it happens in L.A., too) and I needs my sweats sometimes. Likewise, I wear shorts (albeit, Bermuda style that go down to the knees) because heat and I don't mix and I have been known to faint if I get too hot. This is also a "no-no" in some trad Catholic circles and I'll get called out for it. I believe in respect for my fellow human beings despite differences in our beliefs. That doesn't mean I'm also not above respectful fraternal correction when it comes to official Church matters; I just do it in a way that would make St. Francis de Sales (the "gentleman saint") proud.

And here's the thing: there's virtually no middle ground on Twitter or, really, online. You either lean one way or the other. If you opt to do what I have -- and refuse to "join" either side -- you're basically ostracized because of the whole "us versus them" mentality. If you say you like the Latin Mass, "Oh! Trad!" If you mention ethical purchases or "green" products, "Definitely liberal!" It's like we're in high school all over again. Good grief, y'all!

That's why I decided to leave "Catholic Twitter" and why I rarely interact on Twitter these days. It's not worth it. I will continue to tweet links to articles I think others will appreciate. I will continue to share saint quotes that speak to me (and which I think others need to hear; I feel you, Holy Spirit). I will also try to interact when things are calm but I have no qualms about "bolting" if things get heated and arguments pop up. I refuse to buy into that kind of mentality.

I'm not judging you if you have decided to align yourself with one of these online communities; I'm just saying why I decided not to. I can easily fall into scrupulosity and I can have a short temper on my off days (doesn't happen often but it can) so I'd rather not risk it. Being on social media -- and especially Twitter -- for too long usually means I have a lot more to add to my list for the confessional. I don't like it. For my own spiritual wellbeing, I'm going to "do me" and try to share things that I think (and hope!) will glorify God in some small way and not get into it with anyone else.

Anyway, I've been wanting to say something about this for a while but I didn't get the courage to do it until now. That and the time; I'm short on time sometimes. ;)

That's it for now. OH! Novel sequel sale ends tomorrow! I was forgetting about that. lol.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and have a great week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Lovely Start to My "Jesus Year"

I celebrated the beginning of my "Jesus Year" yesterday -- the big 33! For a little over 24 hours, I had the most beautiful day. I don't know how else I can describe it.

From the moment I woke up, I was inundated with such lovely messages from friends. I mean, I cried happy tears within the first 15 minutes that I was awake. That has to be some sort of record for me. lol.

There was also so much laughter (to the point of tears!) throughout the day, especially within the first hour of my waking up. 

I didn't do anything extraordinary or anything I had planned. I had wanted to go to confession the day before, Mass the day of, and get a cupcake at some point. Instead, I got lunch at my favorite burger joint followed by my favorite sorbet at Menchie's. I spent the majority of my day in my pajamas, at home. It sounds boring but it was anything but.

I'm a people person... a social introvert. My love language is quality time. Although most of my friends are spread across the States and abroad, I felt so loved and blessed by all of them. Sure, there were messages on social media, well wishes on my phone, and I didn't see many people yesterday but it's the quality of the messages that made my day special.

I'm a simple gal. I don't need physical gifts to be happy. A few genuine and kind words are enough to make me the happiest lady. Add prayers said for me by friends (and strangers!) and you have an exceptionally happy me. 

I know if I had gone to confession and Mass, it would've topped my 20th birthday (and a day-long trip with my best friends to Disneyland) as my favorite birthday of all time. Alas, it didn't happen but I still felt God's love throughout the day. I also have no doubt that our Blessed Mother also interceded so that I would have at least one good day for my birthday since I'm in the last couple of days before my consecration

The day ended on a downer. First, we found out that they messed up Mom's (paid!) vacation hours and she's missing 64 of those hours... which she was going to use in a couple of months to rest since she hasn't had a vacation in over a year. 

Then I started feeling weird aches and sensations half an hour after I had some chamomile tea last night. Those aches are typically (for me anyway) signs of an intolerance or allergy to something I ate/drank. The aches weren't as intense as the ones I had the day I ended up in the ER earlier this month but they've lasted for over 12 hours now. I'm not sure if I've suddenly developed an intolerance to chamomile (which I've used for years to naturally combat acid reflux) or if it was something else I ate but it's a physical cross I'm currently carrying. I sure hope it isn't the tea because I don't know what else I can have that will reduce the acidity in my (ultra sensitive, medication-hating) stomach. 

Despite those terrible last 2-3 hours of the day (and the proceeding hours of aches and being physically uncomfortable), I still chalk yesterday up as the most beautiful birthday I've had since I turned 20. 

Thank you to everyone who made it a special day for me!

And if you're wondering why I get really into my birthday, it's not because the day is all about me. It's because, in my late teens I was told I would never make it to my 23rd or 24th birthday (before they figured out what was making me sick). Despite all the things I endure during the year (and I've had some whoppers some years), I manage to make it to another year on this earth. That is why I'm especially happy about the day. I celebrate another year that God has blessed me with and it's a tremendous gift.

Anyway, I just wanted to make a record of this day somewhere where I can revisit it if I ever need to be reminded of what a lovely day I had. :)

Don't forget that the novel sequel is on sale until 8 a.m. PT on June 5th! Also, thank you to those of you who got yourselves copies yesterday. Yes, I saw the numbers yesterday. Thank you! :D

I hope you all having a good rest of your week!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Will and Lina Novels On Sale Starting Today!

Just a quick post to let y'all know that both of the Will and Lina books are on sale starting today. I usually have them on sale twice a year (May and December) to correspond with their release dates. I've been so preoccupied with a bunch of stuff that I missed the anniversary sale at the beginning of this month so now you're getting it for my birthday.

Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide (1st book) will be on sale from today through May 30th on Amazon through this link only (there are two separate listings for it):

Will and Lina: London Calling (sequel) will be on sale from May 30th through June 5th through this link:

Just a couple more details about the sale:

  • They will be on sale for 99 cents during their promotional dates. After that, they'll go back up to $3.99.
  • The sales end at 8 a.m. PST on the last day listed.
  • The sale is for the eBooks only
  • You don't need a Kindle to read them; you can read them on your laptop, phone, tablet, etc. as long as you download the Kindle app from Amazon.
  • For the first novel, use that link only. When people search for it, they get the results for the version that Amazon botched up and not the one that I fixed.
Okay, that's it. 

Oh! Wait... disclaimer: my audience is young Catholic women between the ages of 17 and 24 but (thus far) none of the male readers have grumbled too much about them (lol!). I wrote these books in my early to mid-late 20s so don't read them with high expectations; I've grown a lot of a writer since then. You've been warned.

Maybe this sale will be my motivation to finish the third novel before my self-imposed June 20th publication date. Stay tuned. ;)

I hope y'all have a lovely (long) weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D