Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unable to Find the Right Words

This past week (and especially the last couple of days) have been a little strange for me. I've found myself speechless more often than not for a multitude of reasons. The two biggest reasons have something in common -- the potential loss of a parent.

A few days ago, the mother of one of my oldest friends had a hemorrhagic stroke and today the doctors said she was brain dead. Right now the family is waiting for guidance (and/or a miracle) to make the decision on whether or not to "pull the plug." At the same time, the father of another good friend is not doing too well (he has a brain tumor that can't be treated with chemotherapy) and he may have days to live. I've found myself not being able to come up with anything to say other than they're in my prayers (which they are) and that I'm there for them (which I am). I've been in their shoes before but I find myself unable to say the right words.

Are there any right words to say in these types of situations? I had some incredible friends who knew the right things to say 5 years ago while my father was living his last weeks. Other friends gave me my space and I suspect some of them did it because they (like me, right now) didn't know what to say. I feel like everyone says the same thing (or are more eloquent) so all I can say is what I've already mentioned ("you're in my prayers", "call/text me if you need me.")

I know myself well enough to know that if I speak exactly what I feel, I'm going to end up sobbing or making them (unintentionally) cry. I feel things very deeply and I'm sensitive to seeing others in any type of pain. If you don't believe me, read the article I wrote for Envoy Magazine about my experience with my father's death; I've never had so many grown men tell me that my words made them tear up. I'm actually sitting here, trying not to tear up as I type this out. Just knowing that my friends are going through one of the most difficult things (losing a parent) is hard.

I don't live close enough to my friends to be able to physically be there for them. If I could, I would be there, at the hospitals or helping in any way that I could. They're in my heart and on my mind all day. They're in my prayers and in the prayers of my friends whom they don't know. I still hope and pray for miracles but I don't know what else to do. Why don't I feel like that's enough? Before my father's death, I didn't have much experience in this field... and I still haven't had much since. I'm at a loss of what to do. I'm just "typing out loud" at this point.

Can y'all please pray for both of them and their families? I may be unable to find the right words to say but I can, at least, help spread the news so that we can all storm heaven with prayers.

That's it for now. Sorry this post is kind of a bummer but this is what's been on my mind lately.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My View, Vol. 5

What I am reading: I'm currently re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series by  L.M. Montgomery (I LOVE these books, no matter how old I am) with Kiera. I also decided to start reading Envoy for Christ by Patrick Madrid this past week. It's been on my list for a long time. It's my last week before the Fall semester begins so I'm really trying to squeeze in as much quality book time as possible. Sure, I read a ton of books for my courses but it's not the same as reading for pleasure. I'll be continuing the Anne series throughout the semester.

Favorite eats: I've been all about chicken tacos and lentil soup this week because of my low iron levels. Not anemic as previously thought (whoo!) but I'm trying to up the iron intake because of how low the levels are. I am going to try to make kale chips before the week is over as well. Also, if you haven't tried In-N-Out fries "well done", you should. So good!

This week in history: I had another doctor's appointment in which I got my results from last week's blood draw. Everything (except two things) were perfect. As previously mentioned, I am not anemic but my iron levels and platelets are unfortunately low. I'm starting the iron pills today (had to wait to get other meds). Kind of dreading the pills since I heard they're a bit much on the stomach but it's going to be for my own good so I'll be a brave little toaster... er... gal.

Oh! I also went to Disneyland on Monday since my annual pass is once again unblocked. That was fun and I'm so grateful for the pass (it was a birthday gift) because it helps me learn to function and manage my anxiety around crowds (which triggers my PTSD). Crowds were crazy but I managed to make it through the day in one piece. Hooray!

Prayers: For all those who are suffering and are experiencing injustice both abroad and here in the U.S. For my good friends, Thomas and Andrew, who are now seminarians. Both are two of my favorite fellas and both would make excellent priests. For my low iron levels and (especially) my platelets to go up, please. The platelets are the ones I'm more worried about, though I'm trying to leave it all in God's hands and not think about it too much.

Next week, I am going to: start classes for the Fall semester on Monday. I'll be taking 14 units instead of 15, and one will be an observation (think "hands on" experience)/grad school course. I hope the semester won't be too painfully bad. Summer was insane.

I also have spiritual direction next week... which I am sure I need despite being in a good place. I still have a lot of things to work on, including my issues with being occasionally scrupulous, so it'll be good for me.

And that was my week. :D

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.