Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Quick Takes Vol. 20: Health, Wealth, and Fangirling Edition

-- 1 --
Went in for my annual physical exam today and I found out that I have a couple of health issues. One for certain and the others are possibilities. Either way, I was given medications, more blood was drawn today (for a number of things to be ruled out or pinpointed), and this new doctor is 100x more proactive and caring than the last two doctors I had over the last two years. I hope this is the start of a new chapter for me in which I am healthier because I've been having major issues for the past two years.

-- 2 --
I'm so grateful that the new doctor who saw me today wanted answers. She agreed with me that this whole stomach issues thing has gone on too long (other doctors wanted to just mask the symptoms with meds instead of really looking for the cause). I'm not angry at the last two doctors for waving off any concerns regarding foods and diets I might've had. Yes, they would either laugh or smile at me and dismiss my concerns or anything I would bring up (which was hurtful) but, hey, if my suffering and my offering up things over the past two years has helped anyone (or helped any soul get out of purgatory), it was worth it.

-- 3 -- 
I'm sure those who know what's going on with me are thinking to themselves "how are you still smiling and being optimistic?" but, really, what else can I do? I've seen so many friends in pain (physically and/or emotionally) this week that the "mama bear" instinct in me is in full swing. I don't care about what I'm going through right now. The one officially diagnosed thing can be fixed. I'm still full of love, hugs, and silliness. Even after today's news, I'm just not interested in dwelling on my issues. I guess I just realize that other people are worse off than I am and they need support more than I do so I'm here to give them my support. :)

-- 4 --
This week, I've seen so much love from friends... and I'm not entirely sure why. I've received some of the sweetest compliments and I've been hugged more in the past two weeks than I have all year (which I am not complaining about, lol). I hope a reason for this is because I'm making them smile. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every email, text, message, etc I received from friends about all the lousy things they've been going through, I could pay off my student loans. I'm just there to listen when someone needs it. If someone's ever done anything nice for you, pay it forward. :) I may be on a poor college student budget most of the time but my wealth comes from the love of my friends and I couldn't ask for more.

-- 5 -- 
Yesterday I went to the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Vigil Mass and I had total fangirl moments. Fangirl moment #1: The new priest at our old home parish is very young (must be in his 30s) but he was rocking a black biretta. Fangirl moment #2: "smells and bells." I love the smell of incense and I love hearing the bells. Fangirl moment #3: Seminarian in the house and a whole bunch of dudes that gave me a "future seminarians" vibe. Yes! Fangirl moment #4: all-male alter servers (yes, one of those people). Fangirl moment #5: confession after Mass... and the lines were long despite there being two priests. Did I mention that the Mass was OF? I know! Loved it all.

-- 6 --
I'm currently re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series with my good friend (and rock star novel editor), Kiera. Serious question: do we ever get "too old" to read the AOGG series? I'm going to go with "no." I never read the series as a young girl but I've loved it in my 20s. If you haven't read it, go read it. Men, I'll give you a pass for this series... even though I think you should read them, especially if you have daughters. If you have daughters, I'd rather they read this series than Twilight. If you read this TO your daughter, you'll achieve "super dad" status. Just saying.

-- 7 --

I've had this song stuck in my head ever since I first heard it. I'm a sucker for these kinds of songs (... did you see all the songs I added to Lina's LC playlist or check out Lina's WTWC playlist?) Yes, I'm admittedly kind of (and by that I mean totally) a hopeless romantic so the song is right up my alley. Just wanted to share it with those of you who might want something lovely to listen to as you unwind from a hard week. :D

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

And that is all for now. I have access to Netflix and only one week left in my summer break so... you do the math. lol. :D

I hope y'all are doing well. If you have any prayer requests, send them my way. :D

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Novel Playlists and Sequel News

I know, I know... I was supposed to share the rest of the novel playlists last month. I didn't because I was busy with finals the last two weeks. Sorry! Now that I'm on a brief summer break, I'm going to share with y'all the novel playlists... as well as update y'all on the sequel status.

Oh! Before I go on, I just wanted to thank everyone who bought the novel last month. We ended up raising twice the amount I was expecting to donate towards cancer research! I'm donating all of it; I'm not keeping a single penny. Again, thank you so much to everyone who bought it or gifted it to someone!  :D

Alright, back to the blog post...

I shared a shortened version of the one playlist mentioned in the novel (This is What Awesome Sounds Like) last month and thought that the shortened versions of the playlists would be ideal for the blog. The actual playlists I have are several hours long because that's how long I take writing/editing chapters per day. If you want the links to the original playlists, let me know and I'll send them your way.

I decided to share playlists from both novels because the sequel is almost done. As in, I believe I can finish writing the story in the next day or two and I might be able to edit it next week. Don't quote me on that because I do have a packed schedule of socializing to get to before I start the Fall semester towards the end of this month.

The playlists are broken up according to novels and structure. Spoiler alert: since the novels are split into two (Will's POV followed by Lina's POV), the Will playlists are first. Also, WTWC playlists are first and LC (London Calling, name of the sequel) playlists are last. Yes, there only five playlists. No, Candace doesn't have one for the sequel because... if you've read WTWC, you know the answer to that. lol.

Will's Playlist (WTWC)

Lina's Playlist (WTWC)

Candace's Playlist (WTWC)

Will's Playlist (LC)

Lina's Playlist (LC)

Yes, there's quite the difference between the songs chosen for a reason. Spoiler alert: the sequel let's you know what's happened to Will and Lina since the (sort of) cliffhanger in WTWC... but it doesn't pick up immediately after it. It's a bit into the future and the music sort of reflects that. That's all I can say without giving away more details. :D

And that's it. Again, if you want complete playlists or the playlist that contains the songs used for chapter titles (how many of you caught that?), let me know.

Now I have to go run errands and then be domestic (aka clean, cook, etc). ;)

I hope y'all are having a great start of week thus far. If you have any prayer requests, send them my way. :D

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Knowing I'll Be Okay: Lessons From PTSD Sessions

Today was my last session for my PTSD and it was bittersweet. I'm going to miss my therapist because she was so encouraging and positive but I also know that I no longer need the sessions. If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't have known that I have (had?) PTSD. Up until I started the sessions this past Spring, we didn't have an official diagnosis beyond having an anxiety/panic disorder. It took 13 years to really tackle this problem with the right treatment... but I finally did and it feels great to have completed the program.

To say that I had a rough childhood and adolescence would be an understatement. I witnessed so much violence that it made me afraid to leave the house at times. I still get occasionally nervous when I see guns for this reason. I was bullied to the point where they had to pull me out of school... and even then, the main bully still found ways to tell me to kill myself after I left. I had an unfortunate incident in which I was assaulted (though, thankfully, unharmed). I still think my guardian angel helped me. I was able to push the young man (I was 15, he was 18) away with strength I didn't know I had despite being pinned against a desk in an empty office. I was bombarded with negative comments of never being good enough, never being smart enough, never being pretty enough, never being capable of doing anything for myself, etc for as long as I can remember. I had a lot to work through... and I think I've finally made peace with everything, to the point where I can look back at it and not allow it to hurt me in any way. In fact, in a weird way, I'm grateful for all I endured.

I think a lot of my compassion and empathy comes from the fact that I've had to go through a lot. It's made me the person who I am today... and I really like who I've grown up to be (despite my occasional bratty moments). It took 14 sessions of PTSD therapy to realize that I'm stronger and capable of handling anything because I've been able to build up the tools I need to cope with difficult situations. My faith is my biggest blessing. Though we didn't bring up faith a lot in my sessions as I believe they're not allowed to really get into the topic, it was quickly identified as the best "tool" I possess in my arsenal. No matter what is going on, no matter how angry or hopeless I may feel about being in certain circumstances, I always have my faith.

Last week was the hardest week I've had in several years. My mom was hurt so badly that I was afraid that she wouldn't recover anytime soon. She could barely walk and couldn't even sit without being in excruciating pain. Seeing a parent in that kind of pain hurts you. My mom, who is so active and has this inability of sitting still, couldn't do anything because of the pain. I took over everything while she tried to recuperate. That led to dealing with a financial crisis (that had been looming for a while) which seemed impossible to get out of. Couple that with a couple of other things I was dealing with (such as studying for finals) left me in a really tight spot. I felt myself stretched beyond all limits... but I was able to get through it all without a single panic attack. Yes, I cried. Who wouldn't cry when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? Still, I knew that I wasn't going to let it beat me and keep me down so I powered through it all. I was able to keep the house running, to figure out ways to get us out of the financial hole due to unforeseen expenses that drained savings, and I managed to finish two courses (and final exams) two weeks early. I'll repeat it again... without a single panic attack.

I'll admit that I had a point where I broke down and I asked God to help me understand things because I was overwhelmed. I started the Sacred Heart novena when I felt the most overwhelmed and it's brought a lot of peace. I'm sure that God is preparing me for something greater. I may not like what I've had to go through but there has to be a reason for it all and I have to be patient. It's a lot easier said than done but I know I'll be okay... and that's what I realized in today's therapy session.

I could've easily given up or wallowed in pity for myself... but I didn't. Yes, the situations sucked and it felt like almost everything went downhill at the same time, but I didn't let stop me from moving forward. I no longer have those "I'm not capable of..." or "I'm not good enough/smart enough..." thoughts holding me back. I'm no longer afraid of the unknown.

Julie (who I'm incredibly blessed to call a friend) reminded me that fear is not from God. That got me through some of my hardest moments this past week. While it's hard not to worry about the outcome of something or feel like everything's going down the hole from time to time, we need to remind ourselves to trust God. His plans for us are bigger and better than what we can imagine for ourselves. Just knowing this -- knowing that I'll be okay because He loves me despite my flawed nature and that His love will keep me going -- is a comfort.

I can look back at my experiences and be grateful for how unjaded I am. I still believe the best of people. I still believe that everything will work out for the best. I still believe that we all go through crud because God is preparing us for something incredible in the future. My glass is still half-full and I'm still all smiles even though I still get tested from time to time. My therapist helped me see that last part; even when I had so much crud going on, I would always walk into her office and I would still be all smiles.

I'll be okay. Mom and I are going to be okay. God has my back (as well as everyone else's back) so we'll all be okay. We may not understand why we go through hardships but I firmly believe (cue broken record comments) that everything we go through prepares us for something wonderful in the future.

Anyway, I'm sure I repeated myself a number of times but I just typed whatever thoughts and feelings popped up while I reflected on my PTSD sessions. :)

I should really get back to studying for my Anatomy final. It's not until next week but I need to get 100% on it (ha, yeah... no pressure or anything) so I started studying a week early. :)

I hope y'all are well. OH! and, friendly reminder, today is the last day in which 100% of the money earned from my debut novel will be donated to cancer research. I know I initially said that only a portion of it would be donated but I ended up deciding that everything from the month of July would be donated. :)

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

P.S. for more super awesome motivational cat doodles, go here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I Learned Wednesday #34: Millennial "Trad Fad"

I know, I know. It's been a couple of week since I've written one of these WILW posts but most of my Wednesdays have been occupied with studying for exams so I haven't had the chance to write. Since this is my first free Wednesday in weeks (how did that happen?!), I thought I'd spent it writing about something that has irked me lately. I usually break these things up into three parts but I'm only focusing on this one topic this week.

Have you heard of the Millennial "Trad Fad"? You know, the trend in which Millennials immerse themselves in the world of Latin Masses, mantillas/chapel veils, and other pre-Vatican II things. Golly, we Millennials are such hipsters. (side note: don't let the article title fool you; it doesn't actually say that we're hipsters.) I'm kind of hoping that Pope Francis' comments were misunderstood and that he doesn't really think that this is a fad... but I've heard that he's not a big of Latin Masses so I don't know.

I've never shied away from the fact that I really, really miss Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for several reasons, including the fact that (thanks to him) we've had Summorum Pontificum for 7 years now. Are the alleged quotes from Pope Francis legit? I don't know... but I would be disappointed if they were. For someone who is so welcoming of others and their differences, the quotes made me cringe a little.

I can't speak for others on why they prefer "traditional" Catholicism but I can tell you that many of my fellow Millennials who do have a preference to Latin Masses, chapel veils, incense (aka "smells and bells"), Gregorian chant, etc. don't do it for the fad/trend of it. I've never once heard "ooh, not everyone is into this? I need to do this." A good portion of us were poorly catechized and/or we've reverted/converted to the faith and we've come to these things on our own. Nobody did the thinking for us; we learned to appreciate them on our own. Free will, y'all. I personally looked into some - not all - of the changes that came from the Second Vatican Council while I was at that awful CINO college (because they didn't teach these things; they taught that anything pre-Vatican II was outdated and bordered on evil) so I was able to make my own informed decisions based on my preferences.

When I reverted 8 years ago, no one told me there were different types of Masses... but I still knew that I liked my Masses solemn. When I learned about Latin Masses, I knew I'd found the right fit for me. The clappy-clappy/hand-holding thing has never been for me. Even as a child, I felt obligated to hold people's hands when I didn't want to. I just wanted to focus on what the priest was doing/saying. Part of this was because of my introverted temperament and partly because it just didn't feel right for me. I'm not going to knock it if it works for you but I personally just don't like it. I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for this, but I'd appreciate my Masses without a mariachi band or a jazz ensemble. Yes, I endured one *cringe* "jazz Mass" before... and, though I love jazz, it needs to stay far, far away from my Masses. That's just my preference. I like to feel like I'm there to have my time with God, not to feel about all the cringing or be distracted by other things. That's why I love the first Sunday Mass at my parish; my spiritual director and the lovely nuns praying in Latin (with no outside distractions) is such a wonderful way to start my day.

As for chapel veils, I know some of y'all saw the passionate exchange I had with a good friend a couple of weeks ago on Twitter. I won't get into it because there's no reason to but it did inspire me to write about this topic. I veil because I want to. No one is making me do it; no one told me it would make holier... because it doesn't mean squat whether you veil or not if you're not following God's commandments. I made sure I learned the significance of veiling, the custom origin, and it was enough to make me want to do it. Yes, I know -- nerd alert for all the research I've done! Again, no brainwashing; it was a conclusion I arrived to on my own and that I feel most comfortable doing.

I don't veil only when I attend Masses. I also do it when I pray in front of the tabernacle or when alone in a church. I don't always "veil" either. I do keep my head covered but hats and scarves replace veils from time to time. The point is that I cover my head as a symbol of my love and respect for God. It also helps that I always feel like I'm actually there for God; that all sense of pride, arrogance, vanity, all the distractions, etc. get pushed aside. The moment that veil is placed on my head, it literally blocks all earthly distractions from my peripheral view and all I can focus on is on the Mass and/or the tabernacle. Babies -- my biggest Mass distraction -- disappear from view. I am reminded of why I attend Mass and why I believe what I believe.

I do understand that there are people who might be into these things for the wrong reasons. I've heard of "mantilla selfie queens." I haven't actually seen it myself but I've heard that they exist. I've heard of the "holier than thou" crowd. However, they don't represent everyone. Just like a few misguided clergy members (I'm being charitable with my words here) don't represent the entire church, a few "Catholic hipsters" don't represent the rest of us. Give us some credit.

I don't think I really learned anything new this past week other than apparently Millennials who appreciate pre-Vatican II customs are seen as hipsters. At the very least, now y'all sort of know why I do it. Yes, it was a sort of "in a nutshell" explanation but I'll revisit this topic at some point when I don't have too much occupying my mind (aka yes, I have a week off from exams but I'm still trying to keep the info fresh in my mind). :)

That's it for now. I hope y'all are having a great week thus far! If anyone has any prayer intentions, send them my way. :D

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

"This is...." Novel Playlist

This is a spoiler alert for those of you who haven't read the novel. You can stop reading and just go listen to the playlist if you'd like right about... now.

I've been asked if the short playlist Lina makes Will ("This is What Awesome Sounds Like") actually exists. The answer is yes... and no. There are playlists for each of the big characters that I created (Will, Lina, and Candace) to help me get into the head space of each one. However, there was not one single playlist named "This is..."; that came late in the editing process. Still, I decided to create it

I used some of the songs that I already had for Will's playlist as an inspiration for the playlist that eventually became "This is What Awesome Sounds Like." Not all the songs from Will's playlists are on there because the actual playlists (for both the first novel and the sequel) go into the triple digits. I only picked the songs that I thought Lina would pick for Will in a hurry. No hidden messages behind the songs; they were just picked because I (er, Lina) liked them. ;)

And that is it for post. I think I'll continue sharing novel playlists for the next two Mondays since I've sort of made this month my novel month; yes, I'm still donating half (maybe all) of the proceeds to cancer research. (side note: thank you to those of you who have purchased the novel during the first two weeks of this month. :)) I'll most likely do shorten versions of the "Will", "Lina", and "Candace" playlists for next week. ;)

I think I've procrastinated enough. Back to studying for that dread anatomy exam. Yes, I dread every anatomy exam. lol.

I hope y'all had a great weekend.

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