Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent Plans: Waiting, Reflecting, and Slowing Down to Breathe

As you've noticed from my lack of interacting on social media (yes, I took down my Twitter account as soon as the giveaway was done) and sporadic blog posts over the last couple of weeks/months, it's been a hectic time in my life. A demanding course schedule, chronic health issues, and other issues in my personal life have kept me on a constant "go, go, go" pace.

With only a quiz, a group project, and my final exams left, this is the first time this semester I've felt like I have a little wiggle room to focus on something else beyond school work... and that reflection is really sad.

I hate that my schoolwork has taken precedence over most things, including my prayer life. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing a whole lot better than in recent years. I still make the time to pray every morning and every night. I've added the 54-day Rosary novena to my nighttime prayer time in the past couple of weeks and, as of the feast of St. Andrew, I'm now also doing the St. Andrew Christmas novena. I've chosen to go to confession, Mass, and even spending an hour in adoration when I've had exams and papers due that same night because I know that that time is more important (in the long run) than what grades I may get in my classes. Still, it's not enough.

While praying, I can't focus on what I'm reading (from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary) or what I'm praying (the Rosary) because my mind wanders back to whatever is troubling me that day. Things I have due for any of my classes, health issues... all insignificant things that rob me of that peace of mind that would come in handy while praying. That's why I'm grateful that Advent is (admittedly, conveniently) happening at a time when my life is slowing down.

I currently have the small luxury of not worrying so much about school or health issues because I'm trusting that God will guide me in those things, but I know it won't always be this way. Once this semester is over, I have the hardest course of the program to deal with next semester. And that's still contingent upon my passing a course with a B- or better in order to continue and (hopefully) graduate in early May of next year. Next week I have a doctor's appointment with a new doctor and an unknown future regarding my medical issues since I'm basically starting over.

After these things, I will be staring the great unknown in the face -- something that has caused many panic attacks in the past. I fear the unknown because I can't plan for it nor can I control it... and, again, that causes anxiety. How I will pay back my student loans, going forward with my vocation as a future wife and mother, dealing with all of life's ups and down... nothing can prepare me for anything that will rob me of that peace of mind, except the trust I have in the Lord and the hope that everything will work out for the best. That's what I want to cultivate this Advent season: waiting for the things that God has in store for me, reflecting on what truly matters, and slowing down to breathe when things get too overwhelming.

This Advent I really want to learn how to slow down and breath. It may sound silly but think about it. How many of you feel like you don't have the time to devote an hour -- or even half an hour -- to silence and prayer; to just be still in the presence of God (outside of Mass)? I was reading a lovely reflection by the lovely Maria von Trapp (yes, of Sound of Music fame) on one of my favorite blogs regarding Advent and how we fail to prepare ourselves for it because we've lost our sense of slowing down and looking at what's important. Slowly down and reflecting on what's important will help put me back on the right track... and it'll back the waiting period easier to bear.

I was having a conversation with my mother earlier today, about how our focus is mostly on things that will no matter at the end of our lives. We can't take the material things with us yet we crave to acquire as much of it as possible. Perhaps it's not the material but emotional or intellectual pursuits leave us wanting more; not getting fulfillment from them though we may try hard to obtain it. I don't want to continue to let those things get in the way of becoming a better version of myself; one that is in pursuit of Heaven and of an eternity spent with God.

Waiting... reflecting... and slowing down to breathe. Sounds easy enough but when you have an overanalytical mind like mine, it's now always easy.

I know this means I will have to spend more time in silence, which I've never been good at doing. I know that it means I will have to learn now to stress over grades or the future as much as I have (though this is something that God has been teaching me how to do in recent weeks so it's not exactly a new goal this season). I will also have to check in with myself and look at what is causing anxiety and/or what has taken over my mind that particular moment/day and reflect on whether or not it will ultimately matter in the long run, especially at the end of my life. Since this is the beginning of the new liturgical year, I thought this was the perfect time to start these goals and work on them throughout the rest of the liturgical year.

Beyond Advent wreaths (which we're not doing this year; first time in forever), Advent calendars, books on Advent reflections, etc.: what are you, dear reader, planning on doing for Advent? I would love to know. If you're too busy to do anything beyond the things I've just listed, there's absolutely NO shame in that. We all have our own lives and we approach things differently which is why I'm curious to know what you're doing for this season of joyful anticipation.

That's it for now. I want to take my own advice and get some things done so I can sit in silence for a little while. I feel like having a little conversation with God, even if it's one-sided (for now). :D

I hope you are all having a lovely start to the week and to the Advent season.

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 Magnificat Advent Companion App Giveaway Ends Tonight!

Just quick reminder that the Magnificat Advent companion app giveaway ends tonight at midnight PST! If you haven't already entered and would like, this is your last chance!

There was a glitch in the Rafflecopter widget. I don't know who entered for the iOS giveaway and for the Android giveaway so if you've already entered or will enter, please let me know so I know who to send what if they win.

Thank you in advance! :D

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Long (Detailed) Explanation and a Decision

This week has been... crazy. Forget the school stress (and the massive final project I had to turn in for the class from heck); I had a lot of big decisions to make regarding my health.

As many of you (who've been reading this blog for a while) now, I have had lower than normal platelets for years. We're talking a minimum of 8 years. It's never dipped under 100k (that we know of) which is the cut off for non-critical/emergency. For years, my doctors have fought with the hematologist to see me. For years, the hematologist canceled all my appointments saying I didn't have my numbers low enough to be seen by them. My doctor (whose residency was up in June and left) fought and fought until the hematologist agreed to see me starting in May.

For the past 6 months, it's been a whole lot of nothing; just "monitoring." My platelets had a steady decline in those 6 months, from around 123k to 105k. No explanation, other than a possible poor diet and not enough iron and protein in my diet. It's happened before. The hematologist ordered a bone marrow biopsy for next month, to rule out any bone marrow problems. Finally! It only took, what, 8+ years and a doctor who would not quit bugging him until he agreed to see me... and then another 6 months of my platelets falling. I knew it would hurt but I was determined to go with it because I want answers. It could be nothing; it could be that I have ITP and that there is no explanation for my platelets fluctuating. Still, I wanted everything ruled out. Now... the bone marrow biopsy isn't even happening. At least, not anytime soon.

Over the past week and a half, there was a lot of unraveling that happened with my doctors and the hematologist that forced me to make the tough decision to leave their care, go elsewhere, and start anew. Why would I do that, when I was so close to having the biopsy? Because I no longer trusted these doctors and if you can't trust them to take care of you and do what's in your best interest, you need to go elsewhere.

As I said, it started a week and a half ago. I went in to get my blood work results. My red blood count went down below normal for the first time in months, but the iron and everything else was normal, including my white blood count (which is rarely within normal range). My platelets also took that dip to 105k which prompted the bone marrow biopsy appointment. They were worried about my red blood count has dipped. I knew why it had dipped... but they weren't listening to me. That's when we started having problems.

I'll be completely honest with y'all: Mom and I struggle financially more often than I admit to anyone, my friends included. I don't talk about it because I don't want anyone's pity. I've gone to bed hungry (and did go to bed hungry) several days a week in recent and past months. No one except my mother knew this. I've cried out of hunger. This has been a reoccurring problem since my father passed away because the only source we have coming in is my mother's now that I have put freelance writing (which paid peanuts anyway) on hold to focus on finishing this SLP program I'm in. I max out my student loans so that we have a bit of money saved in case her paychecks aren't enough and we need to "borrow" from those loans. Guess what happens when I'm not in school. No extra student loan money, no extra money... more tightening of the belts.

In recent months, I wasn't eating well... and I went several days without having anything containing protein to eat. That's why my protein level dipped for the first time ever. That's why I think my red blood count dipped. I could have tortillas, rice, and potatoes... and nothing else that day, for several weeks. I would eat, yes. I would get "full" on some days but I wasn't eating a healthy diet. That will cause your body to stop producing what it needs to produce to keep you healthy. I also wasn't taking my iron pills for two reasons. First, with my acid reflux as bad as it had been in recent weeks, I wasn't able to swallow the large pills. Second, my bottle I had expired and I had to wait to buy a new bottle. But, once I did, I started taking them regularly. Unfortunately, that was only twice before my blood work was done so, you know, it wasn't going to show up right away.

Back to the doctor problems -- the hematologist wanted me to start iron infusions because my RBC was low. Having a history of medical and food allergies, I asked what the side effects could be. I was told "nothing; none. You'll just feel better right away." Furthermore, I was told that my iron levels were "never" normal and that it was crucial that I have done." I had to two options: iron pills and the iron infusions... except they ruled out the pills without consulting me first, saying that I haven't had success with them before. They pushed and pushed for me to have the infusions. I had a gut feeling that I shouldn't do them but they pushed so hard and made it seem like I had no other choice but to do that or else the hematologist could no longer want to see me... and would not even try to get to the bottom of my platelet issues. Reluctantly, I agreed because I felt I was forced to say yes.

After I left, the doctor caught up with me... "Oh, by the way... turns out there is a chance of an anaphylactic shock." I'm sorry, what? Didn't you just say there was NO chance of ANY side effect? Red flag. I went home and later that day I got my blood work results via the hospital's website. Surprise: my red blood count wasn't the lowest I've ever had it. Furthermore, they had also lied about my iron "never" being normal. All my iron panels except the red blood count were normal and have been normal for months. Red flag number 2.

I tried to get a second opinion so I went back this week. It was a different doctor but within the same hospital. This doctor told me that, with my history of allergic reactions, she wasn't sure why they wanted to do the infusions. She looked at my blood work results and said, "you're not even that anemic; just slightly! It's not a 'if you don't do this, you're going to die!' situation." She sent a message to the hematologist saying that I preferred to keep taking the iron pills that had worked for me in the past. I asked her if I could cancel my scheduled infusions. She said "yes". I double checked before I left. I felt relieved. I knew I didn't need the infusions. In fact, I had other folks who know about medicine (other doctors included) who agreed that infusions weren't necessary.

It wasn't even 5 minutes after I left that I received a call from the doctor. The hematologist insisted I do the infusions because they were worried that I would lose more blood and get worse. I didn't understand how that was possible. I had felt more energetic in the past month than I had in several months. The mental fog hasn't been much of an issue over the last couple of weeks, even when I was tired. Sure, I was oversleeping and the fatigue overwhelmed me some days, but I'm also under a ton of academic stress and I had a little thing called chronic fatigue. Feeling tired when I'm overwhelmed isn't new to me; it's happened even when I've been healthy (read: no anemia or other medical problems). I bet some of you feel tired when you're overly stressed out as well.

I called my mother and told her what happened. Before this appointment, we'd discussed my leaving if they were going to be difficult about it. I didn't think I would have the guts to go through with it. I also talked to my godson's mother (who is a dear friend) and I vented and ranted about it through FaceTime. She also suggested I leave the doctor and go elsewhere. Everyone I talked to that day encouraged me to leave. Everyone my mother talked to, including friends/co-workers (she works in a convalescent hospital so they know their stuff), said that I should go elsewhere. One particular friend/co-worker who is a doctor said, "Don't let her go through with the infusions! She doesn't need them. Go elsewhere for a second opinion."

In order to get a second opinion (with my particular insurance), I had to switch doctors and hospitals. I called my insurance company and asked if I could make the switch. Because of the enrollment period, I had to wait almost 24 hours before they confirmed that I could. It was done within minutes. I picked the hospital. It's the same one where my father had his operation when he was first diagnosed with cancer; the same one where the ambulance took me after my car accident two years ago. The woman who switched me over to that network asked me if I had a doctor in mind. I said I didn't. She could choose for me. It was a risky move but I just wanted to go elsewhere and so I would take whichever doctor was accepting new patients and was covered by my insurance.

I'm going to back up just a bit (before I go on) to tell you one more thing to make all of this make sense: I had St. Giuseppe Moscati pop up at the most random times over several weeks prior to his feast day. I would be doing one thing and his name or image would pop up. I received an Ignatius Press catalogue and while I was ripping into pieces to throw in the trash (because I can't afford anything right now and I didn't want the temptations), I somehow came across a DVD of his life in the catalogue... again, randomly not thinking anything about it except "this saint is stalking me. lol." Yes, I think "lol" sometimes. lol.

I finally looked him up. St. Giuseppe Moscati was a doctor. He remained a bachelor all his life and dedicated his life to helping the poor. Even if they didn't have money to pay for their treatments, he would give me the treatments... and money for food so they'd eat. He was an extraordinary man. The weekend before my last doctor's appointment, Mom and I watched the movie based on his life (thanks to a friend who let me borrow her account to watch the movie for free). It (the movie and his life's story) left both of us completely speechless. Oh, and what was one of the first things Dr. Moscati talked about in the movie? Platelets. Yep, it was a sign. lol.

Mom and I started praying, asking St. Giuseppe Moscati to please intercede for me. I left the doctor's office (prior to the call 5 minutes later) feeling at peace. That peace was replaced with anger and internal confusion and disturbance. Only minutes before I was informed I could make the switch to a different hospital and doctor, I had a nightmare in which the devil and I fought control over my body. I woke up with my heart racing, praying the St. Michael Archangel prayer. 5 minutes after I woke up, I received the call. While they checked to see if there were any doctors affiliated with the hospital I wanted to switch to, I kept praying to St. Giuseppe Moscati. "Please, let them find someone. Please, let them find someone, St. Giuseppe!"

I called my mother with the news after it was all said and done. She sighed in relief. The peace I had (which had settled in my heart immediately after I made the decision to leave my now former doctor) was still there. Yes, I would have to start the process over with a new doctor and a new hematologist (something that I had been informed before they made the switch) but I didn't care. I knew that God would help guide me. If the new doctor and hematologist say I should do the infusions, too, I'll do them. However, I want that second (well, more like 4-5th professional opinion at this point, lol) opinion with people who will regularly see me and will know my case.

I found out that my new doctor has an amazing reputation. Keep in mind that I didn't choose her and that she was chosen for me while I was invoking St. Giuseppe's intercession. Most of her former patients lament that they've had to leave her because of changes to their health insurances (different from mine) have made it impossible for them to continue seeing her. I still feel that peace and even hope that the change will be good for me and that she will be proactive in helping me get healthy once again. I'm actually going to make the appointment as soon as I finish this post; they're probably out to lunch until 1 p.m. which will be in 25 minutes from the time I'm writing time.

The doctors and hematologist didn't think I would leave. They thought I would go along with what they wanted, even when I had my reservations about it. The doctor I saw on Monday called me earlier this morning to inform me that the hematologist still wanted me to do iron infusions but, if I still didn't agree to them, I could take the iron pills. I didn't say anything except "thank you." The hematologist knows I left two days ago. They informed him that I canceled all my infusion appointments and even my follow-up appointment in late February with him. They knew I made the change to a new doctor/hospital.

As much as I wish I could say that I think they are worried about my well-being, I think it has more to do with the $$$ they're losing. They would've charged my insurance company a lot of money for the infusions (which apparently everyone believes was the reason why they practically forced me to do them) and now that money (plus whatever money they got every time they saw me) is gone. It's such a jaded way of looking at things (and it goes against my very nature to accept it as a possibility) but it seems like this is the case. For years, the hematologist refused to see me and now that I sought help elsewhere, they want to help me? No. Red flag, my friends.

Did I fail to mention that I never actually met the hematologist? They would send a new resident doctor each time I had an appointment with them. The same with my regular doctor until my beloved Dr. M (who left after her residency was up) said, "no, this is crazy. I'm going to request that you get assigned exclusively to me so I can help you." After she left, back on the "new doctor every appointment" rotation. I couldn't continue doing that. There was no consistency and stability I needed for my chronic health issues.

OH! I should also mention that the last blow-up with my former doctors happened on the last day of petition for the 54-day Rosary novena (where my platelets and health are one of the biggest intentions) and that I got my new doctor and hospital on the first day of Thanksgiving of the novena. Also, my new hospital is Catholic. Sure, let's call a coincidence. ;)

That's where I am right now. That happened over the last week and a half... when I had school stuff to go through. No one said doing the 54-day Rosary novena was easy but it's so worth it.

Right now, I'm focusing on taking my iron pills regularly and on staying as relaxed as I can about school. I have 4 quizzes due this upcoming Saturday. I have my portion of a group project due on the 5th. My final exams are happening between the 9th and the 15th of December. After that, a 3-week break. If I can miraculously pass all my courses (I need a 76% or higher on my final exam in one class to continue the program; for COMD 3400 if anyone is feeling charitable enough to pray for that score or higher on my behalf), I'll be headed for my final semester on January 8th.

I don't know when my next doctor's appointment will be but I will keep y'all updated on any developments. I know some of you have been praying unceasingly for my health and for school to go well for me. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank you enough. In your charity, I ask you to keep praying for me, especially now that there has been a big change with my health providers and with my exams coming up.

I feel at peace. I spent an hour before the tabernacle last Tuesday (exactly one week before the switch was made) and asked for guidance and peace. I know God will continue to help me, especially now with Mama Mary (through the 54-day Rosary novena) and St. Giuseppe Moscati's interceding for me. I even feel at peace over my school situation. It doesn't mean that I will pass or that I won't. I think it just means that I'm learning to trust God more and that is the peace I'm feeling.

Anyway, I'm really sorry for the super long post but I wanted to get it out of my system... and give a shout out to St. Giuseppe Moscati who Mom and I are now counting as my patron in health-related matters. Look him up; he is incredibly inspiring!

I slept away the day yesterday (don't worry; it's nothing to be concerned about) so I'm going to try to catch up with things.

I hope you're all having a lovely week thus far! Oh, don't forget that the St. Andrew Christmas novena begins today! I'm linking you to one of my favorite websites since they have a lovely graphic of the novena that you can bookmark if you want to do it. :D

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Magnificat Advent 2017 Companion App Giveaway!

It's that time of the year again, folks. The current liturgical year is winding down and I start thinking to myself, "How on earth will I be able to celebrate/observe Advent this year?" With my crazy schedule these past 3 months, I haven't really had a chance to work on my own spiritual life beyond the daily prayers, confession, and Mass (yes, I'm going to Mass more often now that I'm getting the hang of working with, not against, my chronic illnesses). 

I hope that I can begin to rebuild my spiritual life and get myself on track this Advent. Thankfully, I only have 4 more quizzes (all due Saturday), my portion of a group project (which should be easy peasy), and my 3 final exams in 2 weeks so I shouldn't be too overwhelmed this Advent season. Please, God, help me not be overwhelmed. lol.

I'm grateful that the folks at Magnificat were very generous this year because this year I have twice the companion apps to give away. That's right. I have 4 app codes to give away this year, two for the iOS app and two for the Android app. I had only given away codes for the iOS app in previous years (I give them away for both Advent and Lent) and had been asked about the Android app in the past so I'm ecstatic to be able to give them away this year.

I have used this app in the past and it's been so great for me. I highly recommend it if you need something to help you during the Advent season, especially when you're busy.

Disclaimer: They are in no way, shape, or form paying me to say this. I am not employed by them. One of my best friends works for the company and they knew I had a blog so they very generously give me the app codes to give away. I don't even keep one of the codes for myself; I give them to you lovely readers and prefer to pay for an app for myself. It's that simple.

The rules for the entries are pretty straightforward: you can get up to 15 entries the first day and I believe the tweet option can be done once a day so you can get more 5 entries if you do it daily between today and Saturday at midnight, Pacific time.

I'm really sorry for the short time frame but I just got the codes yesterday and I had a pretty crazy day yesterday (which I hope to fill you all in on very soon) so I didn't have a chance to write this post until today.

Be sure you click on the proper giveaway. One is for the iOS app and the other is for the Android app. You can click on the arrows within the raffle app to find the one you want to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more short piece of news: I will have my new Twitter handle up until the winners claim their apps and then I will deactivate it again. I had deactivated it for safety reasons and I have folks who are keeping an eye on things so no one try any funny business. I plan on using it further down the line, especially when the first novel and the other project I'm working on get published but there's no actual need for it at the moment... you know, beyond the giveaway. I will activate it at least once a month to keep the username but I won't be terribly active on it until I get a new book published and/or I graduate. Just a heads up. I can't afford to be distracted right now. ;)

That's it for now. You have until Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, at midnight PST, to enter!

I hope you are having a lovely start of the week!

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

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Is It Wrong to Find the Good in the Bad?

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. :)

So, this post had been sitting in my drafts inbox for months. Months. Like, mid-summer. I didn't have time to finish it... until now when I decided to give myself rare day off from studying and write three blog posts (the one posted on the day before Thanksgiving Day, the one posted on Thanksgiving Day, and this one). As you might've guessed from the title, this one is going to have a question for y'all at the end. ;)

I tend to look for the good in the bad. It's just how I am and have been since I was a little girl. Sometimes this can backfire as it exposes me to other dangers and it can make me miss a lot of red flags but, overall, it's been a good trait to have.

I have two guilty pleasure movies: Mona Lisa Smile and Gidget... and people wonder why, especially when they get to know me a little better.

Why do these choices surprise people? Because of the content in the movies.

Spoiler alert if you haven't seen either. In Mona Lisa Smile, we have a (relatively) young teacher, Dr. Katherine Watson (played by Julia Roberts), who goes to teach at conservative Wellesley College in the 1950s. She is a progressive in the land of conservatives trying to "enlighten" the "oppressed" young women at the college who favor a more traditional lifestyle. Dr. Watson and another student are all about not being tied down, sleeping with however you want to sleep with (even if that man is married or sleeping with his students), foregoing marriage because it'll only limit your potential... you know, pretty modern ideas which seem radical when placed in the 1950s.

So why do I like this movie? Well, besides the clothing and the music (big fan of 1940s-50s music and pop culture over here), what I love about this movie is that the character Joan Brandwyn (played by Julia Stiles) challenges Dr. Watson's presumptions and ideas. Joan is the brightest student in her class and Dr. Watson does everything she can to get Joan into law school... and away from a potential marriage. When Dr. Watson learns that Joan has eloped and gotten married to her boyfriend, you can see the disappointment on her face because Joan has "thrown everything away" by choosing to marry.

Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I'd regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart. This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn't say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you, a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.

This is the scene that makes the entire movie worth watching (for me)... because I can relate to it, in a way. I often get told not to "waste my brain" and to dedicate myself and my life to a career instead of a marriage. Yet, I want the opposite. I want to dedicate myself to a family when the time comes. Family has always been important to me -- for more than a career could ever be. I wasn't raised this way (my mother always drilled it into me to focus on a career before I ever married) but it's what I've come to want for myself. I can look past the blatant (modern) feminist ideas and focus on this scene. Joan, who has the world at her feet, chooses to follow her dream... even if it puts her at odds with someone she respects.

By the way, there's a "What Mona Lisa Smile Character Are You?" quiz and I got Connie. I totally don't mind.

What's so bad about Gidget? Well, it depends on what you focus on. The guys have a beach party that's really meant to be an excuse for the young surfer bums to (in modern terms) hook-up with whoever they want, even trying to dissuade Gidget from going because she's too innocent and wholesome. Yes, lots of kissing and (tame, for our standards anyway) innuendos going on during the beach party. Gidget wants to make the guy she likes jealous by lying about being interested in someone else and then tells him she's going to a "beach shack" with the oldest of the beach bums (who looks old enough to be her young father) who only asked her for a ride to the shack with no other intention than getting some sleep which he can't with the guy fellas going wild. She actually manages to get the guy to ask her into the beach shack and tries to get him to make sure she's no longer "snow pure" but nothing comes of it.

So why do I like this movie? Again, besides the music and pop culture stuff (released in 1959), Gidget makes some pretty dumb ideas but she's still her own person and won't let anyone else influence her. Her friends get on her case about not "making it" (slang for, well, not waiting until marriage) even though she's "pushing 17." She talks to her mother about how she hates when guys want to get handsy when she just wants to be their friend... and even wonders if she's odd because she's not into that or being like most of her friends. She's a star student, she prefers to surf rather than go on a "manhunt" (look for the most eligible bachelors) with her friends, her wardrobe is more modest (even her bathing suits are tasteful compared to others'), and there's an innocence about her that resonates with me. Again, yes, she makes that dumb decision to go to the beach shack with the older beach bum but he actually stops her (after pretending he was into it to scare her off... it didn't) and tells her to go home. He actually protects her instead of taking advantage of the situation. Bravo, Kahuna!

Is it wrong to seek the good in the bad? To ignore what the overall message is for the little good that you find? I keep going back and forth on this... especially when it comes to these guilty pleasure movies. It's no secret that I'm pretty much a "prude" when it comes to sexual innuendos and scenes in films... which is what I think makes people wonder about these two guilty pleasure choices. The only explanations I can give are the ones I've just written -- I look beyond a couple of scenes and focus on the positive things I can get out of them.

Of course, there are some movies, books, and shows I will refuse to watch or read, no matter how much my friends rave about. If it contains a lot of "sexy times," has a lot of cussing, or has something I'm not entirely comfortable with, I will avoid it because I know that I'm just not into that kind of stuff. I will actually fast forward some of the Mona Lisa Smile scenes and just focus on the parts I like. I have a line that I will not cross because I know my weaknesses (e.g. a vivid, occasionally overactive imagination) and what I need to do to avoid adding to my list of stuff I need to take to the confessional.

Anyway, I would love to hear about whether you also try to find the good in the bad, not only in life but also in music, books, tv shows, and films? Do you simply avoid these types of films? Do you watch everything and not worry about these things? I would love to hear from you; no judgments if you have a differing opinion. :)

That's it for now.

I hope y'all have a lovely rest of the (long) Thanksgiving Day weekend!