Monday, October 24, 2016

In Sickness and In Health?

Tiny violin. Get it? lol.

I'm just going to say it: sometimes I worry that no man will want to marry me because of all the health issues I've been through in recent years. There. I said it. It's out in the open.

If you're wondering what prompted this blog post and admission, it's been a number of things. The combination of reading vocation stories, having my own (future) vocation reaffirmed, and the fact that I've finally stopped making excuses to avoid dating and being open to dating has all been building up over the past couple of months.

"If you're worried about not finding someone who will want to be with you while you're sick, why even date?" Why go to school? Why get up in the morning? Why make plans? All for the same reason: I'm very optimistic that I'll get healthier before I know it. Why do I keep studying even though the medical conditions I have right now (which are reversible, thank goodness) make it difficult to memorize and concentrate? Again, because I don't plan on being sick forever. Furthermore, I don't want to stay stagnant. I feel like I've wasted so many years of my life just staying in the same place, not moving forward, because I let the obstacles that are in my way give me an excuse to be selfish and put a pause on things. I'm tired of doing that so forward I must go.

"If you're sure about your vocation, why are you worried about not finding someone?" Because I'm human. I worry about things I have no control over because that's how I am. My poor father (may he rest in peace) worried about everything and he was superstitious as a result so guess who I learned those terrible habits from. I try to stay positive but sometimes I get overwhelmed and these thoughts pop into my mind. I worry that I discern my vocation wrong and maybe this is all a sign that I'm meant to stay single. You hear that? That's 4 years of being sick without relief. If it's not one thing, it's another.

"But you have to trust God." Who says I don't? I trust God. I definitely don't do a good job at it 24/7 but I try. I'm learning to trust that He will send relief if it's His will. If not, I pray (and trust) that He will send me the courage to endure it. Do you trust God 24/7? Truly and honestly, 100% of the time? Let's be honest, we all have our moments in which trusting God is hard. Maybe not with health issues but financial, familial, career, etc? We've all had our moments. It doesn't mean that we love Him any less, it just means that we have a lot to work on.

One of the reoccurring thoughts that has kept popping up in my mind lately has been "this is all a test of trust." Whether I'm right or wrong, only God knows but I feel like it may be. I say I trust Him, but do I trust Him enough? Nope. It's become so obvious that I don't. This has been heightened with my recent health issues. New symptom? Worry. Heart rate slowing down, taking sharp drops while I sleep? Panic. Often, the "this is all a test of trust" light will flicker on, helping me to relax and not fall into the spiral of self-predicting doom. I'm getting better at it but I still have a long way to go.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't grow up surrounded by happy marriages. Most women who talked to me and gave me "man advice" growing up were bitter and jaded for one reason or another. One reason I heard was because either the woman got sick and the man left or vice versa. Most of their advice was to establish a career that I could fall back on in case the man I married was a deadbeat who would eventually abandon me for someone else... because "most men are like that." No joke. I heard that advice about 95% of the time when someone older talked to me about getting married in the future. In fact, I still hear it though now it's accompanied by "oh, but you're 31 now. You're educated. You'll be fine either way." Sometimes I feel like they want to add that I'm too sick to even think about it... or have one huge stipulation (that I stay close to my mother since her memory is slowly failing as she gets older) that will make things impossible in the marriage department.

If you're wondering why I'm so open about this and why I'm doing it on such a public forum: because we don't read about it. Ever. In my nearly 10 years as a blogger and blog reader, I've never seen another blogger -- Catholic or otherwise -- talk about their fears regarding their vocation as a future spouse. Maybe I'm the only one that feels like this way but I have a feeling there are others out there who have similar thoughts. Maybe not health issues but another cross that they worry no one will want to help them carry. I'm not ashamed of what I've written because it's my reality. I write what I feel, even if it's not pretty and/or occasionally pessimistic.

Don't worry, I'm not a regular Marvin, the Paranoid Android. I'm not pessimistic all the time. In fact, most of the time I'm quite optimistic about the future and things in general. Still, I have my occasional moments of doubt. I'm sharing what usually goes on in my mind during those moments because I have a doctor's appointment (which is coming up at 6:30 p.m. PST) today and I wanted to blog so this topic came to mind.

That's all I have to say about this topic for now. Just putting it out there. I'm sure my close friends will now keep reminding me that I'm being silly, which is fine. :)

I hope my next post (tomorrow, maybe?) will be much happier. I'm off of social media for the week. I hope. We'll see. I am weak when it comes to posting updates. No, sharing links directly from Catholic websites onto Twitter does not count; I mean actual "I'm bored; this is what's going on with me" posts. ;)

Anyway, I'm going to try to walk around my apartment because I don't want to fall asleep less than an hour before I have to leave for my appointment. Did I mention I only got a little more than 4.5 hours of sleep last night/this morning? Yep. I need to talk to the doctor this evening (not my regular doctor as far as I know) about not being able to fall asleep. Hopefully, that'll help keep me alert for a little while. Don't worry, my mother is coming with me to the appointment so I won't be driving by myself. Yes, I'll also try to avoid heavy traffic by using side streets. :)

I hope y'all had a lovely weekend and have a great start of week!

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

54-day Rosary Novena: Who Wants to Join?

I've been thinking of doing the 54-day Rosary novena for several weeks now. With everything that's been going on with me (health-wise) and everything going on with Mom at her work (read: mental and emotional abuse), I thought it was time to do this novena. I've had the "everything that can go wrong, will go wrong" experience the last 3-4 times I've done the novena so I've always thought twice about doing it again. The last time we did it wasn't as bad possibly because we had a large number of people doing it, including a priest.

I kept going back and forth on doing it until I read the article that Tiffany wrote on Catholic Mom about the benefits of doing this novena to prepare for Advent. That's when I took it as a sign to do it. I'd read somewhere (I can't remember exactly where) that it was a good idea to start the novena on All Saints' Day ending on Christmas Eve since it was exactly 54 days.

Over a week ago, I posted a message on this blog's Facebook Page, asking if anyone else would be interested in doing the novena as well. I was not expecting more than one or two responses but was glad to see so many people wanting to participate in it. :) I then posted the link on Twitter and more people jumped on board.

This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to join in praying this novena. You can pray it for any intention you may have or you can ask others for their intentions if you don't have a big one yourself. You can do this novena using either the original format or the modified version which includes the Luminous Mysteries. I've only done it using the Luminous Mysteries in previous novenas but I may try the original format this time around. This website has both versions so you can choose which version you'd like to do.

"I'm interested in doing it but I'm terrible at remembering novenas days..." you may be saying to yourself. That is no problem. If you need a reminder, I will happily send it to your way. Just let me know which way you'd prefer to be contacted (getting tagged on a Twitter tweet, through the Facebook page, or via an email) and I'll send the daily reminder. I'll include what day we're on for both original and modified versions of the novena so you don't have to worry about getting the days mixed up.

For those who have heard horror stories about what can and has happened during the novena ("everything that can go wrong, will go wrong"), I want to reassure you that it doesn't happen to everyone. Yes, I've experienced it myself for each novena but other people who've prayed the novena with me have had no negative experiences. I can also attest that the rewards greatly outweigh any incidents that may happen during the novena. This is a very powerful novena and I highly recommend it if you have big, heavy intentions. Trust God, pray the St. Michael Archangel prayer, and try not to think about anything but the graces you may receive during the novena. :)

Again, the novena begins on November 1st and ends on December 24th. If you're interested in doing the novena please let me know (or remind me again) before October 31st so I can keep track of the people partaking in it on my prayer journal. If you want to bail on the novena at some point for whatever reason, don't worry about it; just let me know so I won't send you reminders. :)

Alright... so, who's in?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Welcomed Distraction

Yesterday I went on an outing/field trip with a group of like-minded young Catholics. (side note: when I say "young" I mean 18-36 year-olds.) It was the first time I've ever been able to make it to such an outing since my plans to be involved with youth ministry at my current parish never came to fruition no matter what I did or how hard I tried. I was very excited about this meet-up because I knew that I could geek out on Catholic things and I wouldn't have anyone give me a funny look over it.

Before I go on about why this outing was just what I needed, I want to share what happened the day before. On Friday I had received some unpleasant health news. My red blood count had lowered. My white blood count had completely tanked, most likely due to the stress I've been under as well as the low folate level. Speaking of that, my folate level has gotten worse. My calcium and iron levels are the same, though on the low side. I've gained back 2 of the 6 pounds I'd lost due to the stress from school and health issues. My kidneys are in good shape now and my platelets have gone up as well so not all was bad. Still, I was upset at how low the other levels were. I talked to some friends that night and got my thoughts sorted out before I was able to feel okay about my situation. I know that my mother's prayers also helped; she told me she prayed for me after she saw how sad I'd gotten over my blood work results. I briefly considered backing out on the outing for Saturday but I'm glad I didn't because it helped me forget about my problems for a couple of hours.

I admit that I was nervous as I drove to our meeting place (the San Fernando Mission) because I knew no one in the group. I hadn't known that this group even existed until earlier this month because I'm not an active member of this particular parish. After I heard about it and the events they planned, I was interested and decided to become a member. My heart raced and it actually got up to about 124 (according to my FitBit) at one point -- most likely from the nerves -- while I was with the group. Thankfully everyone was great and after some initial awkwardness, I was able to relax and talk to them as I would with friends. As the time passed by and I got more comfortable with them, my heart rate went down a bit and I was able to enjoy the outing.

We walked around the Mission as a group of 6 -- which later became a group of 9 -- with the group often splitting into smaller groups. The weather was perfect and the group members were so lovely and welcoming, making it a thoroughly enjoyable day. We visited the Bob Hope Garden (where Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores, are buried). A couple of us loved seeing the old (think 1500s-1700s) books. I was actually excited to have other people excited to see these books besides myself. lol. We saw two quinceaƱeras (sweet 15) arrive at the main chapel and I was glad to share my knowledge of them since I was the only Hispanic in the group (until the priest that accompanied the group arrived).

After we walked around, exploring the Mission, the priest who was meeting up with us arrived. We were supposed to have the Latin Mass celebrated at a smaller chapel on the grounds (one I've never been to) but that ended up being quashed (long story) so instead we all prayed the Rosary together. At that point, the group got a little bigger. Those who didn't have Rosary beads with them were able to borrow them from others. All of us gals wore our chapel veils. Everyone knelt, though, admittedly, I didn't last too long before I had to sit because I've been known to feel faint if I kneel for a long period of time when I'm not 100% healthy and I didn't want to ruin anyone's time at the Mission. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience. Before the priest left and the group broke up for the day, we prayed the Angelus which was a first for me; I've never prayed the Angelus before.

I must've looked happy after the outing because my mom had a huge grin and agreed to go to the Latin Mass at the parish where the young adult group is based. Since Mom and I like our Masses solemn, it makes sense for us to go to the Latin Mass. Not only that, I was thinking that maybe this has been in God's plans for us for a while now.

We've had a couple of incidents at our current parish -- with both parishioners and a priest -- that have made us feel either unwelcome, unnerved, or like it's no longer the right fit for us. Over the past year (almost to the day), things have been unraveling and both Mom and I have agreed that it's time for us to move on to a different parish. Our current parish has been our "home" for nearly 4 and a half years. We have wonderful memories but I feel like God may be pointing us elsewhere. We're going to try the new parish and see if it's the right fit for us. We shall see. :)

Anyway, this is my contribution for the week. I've been wanting to write more lately (and I have something to share that has been discussed on the Facebook Page for this blog) but time management has not been my strong suit this past week. I only have time to write this today -- Sunday -- because I take my "day of rest" seriously. Otherwise, I would be studying and/or doing homework right now. So much homework. Hopefully, things will slow down after this week's next round of exams and I can begin to write more often. Fingers crossed.

To those who've continued to pray for me, thank you! I've felt more at peace lately and I know it's been your prayers that have helped. My health may not be at 100% (and has gotten slightly worse since last month) but I know that between your prayers, my own efforts, and God's will, something good will come out of all of this. :D

I hope y'all had a lovely weekend!

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

Monday, October 10, 2016

Holding Mama Mary's Hand

If you're following me on social media then you might've already seen me asking for prayers over the weekend. I had a lovely week -- made lovelier by good news from the doctor -- but things started to fall apart on Saturday. For once, I'm keeping the exact details to myself; only a few close friends know the full extent of what's going. Let's just say that it's a mix of a new health (heart related) worry for me, seeing things happening to Mom that are beyond her control and completely unjust, and a number of other things that created the perfect storm of intense anxiety.

I literally could not sit still for more than 4 seconds most of Saturday evening and night. I would sit down and immediately bolt up and pace the length of my apartment. That's how intense the anxiety was. You'd think that I'd eventually calm down enough to sleep it off, right? Big fat "nope." Our new next-door neighbors decided to throw a party on Saturday night that lasted until the wee hours on Sunday morning. After they calmed down, I was still so wound up that I just couldn't fall asleep. Having to get up at 4 a.m. that morning was a massive pain after sleeping very little. While my anxiety got a bit better during the day, I still couldn't fall asleep last night and, again, slept very little.

I've tried taking naps yesterday and today but it hasn't gone smoothly. During the first hour or two of the attempted naps, I've kept waking up (and sitting up) suddenly just as I was drifting off to sleep. I knew I had things to do both yesterday and today but I simply couldn't stay sleep, no matter how exhausted I've felt. Finally, I remembered the words that one of my best friends said to me when I told him what was going on and what my fears were: "Clutch our Mother's hand." I got the idea of holding Rosary beads in my hand as I tried to rest and both times that I've done it I've been able to drift to sleep and rest for at least an hour.

Has anyone been in a similar situation in which their minds and/or their hearts were troubled with something and nothing was helping ease the worry? I pray the Rosary on a daily basis but I sometimes don't feel at peace as quickly as I'd like. I'm not sure if holding the Rosary beads helps me drift off to sleep because, psychologically, it's a sort of security blanket during times of trials or if it's because Mama Mary is there with me, helping ease my anxiety. I'd like to think it's the latter. All I know is that imagining that Mama Mary is, in a way, holding my hand while I feel helpless and alone (when I'm physically alone) is very soothing. I've often wrapped Rosary beads around my hand when I've had horrific anxiety attacks but this is the first time I've held them to help me fall asleep.

By the way, please don't say "don't worry!" or "trust in the Lord" because, as well-meaning as they may be, I really don't want to hear those words. It makes me feel like a complete failure when my anxiety gets so bad that I can't stop worrying. I do try but sometimes it gets overwhelming. I ask God for help and I do trust Him but sometimes the mind is weak, especially when it's sleep deprived and can't think rationally.

Anyway, this was a quick blog post to share this in hopes that this may help someone else in a similar situation. If you can't pray the entire Rosary or even a decade, I highly recommend holding a strand of Rosary beads and praying any way you can. Even if it's as simple as "Lord, have mercy on me" or "Blessed Mother, pray for me" -- prayers don't have to be fancy as long as they come from the heart.

I should go eat something... and study. I really hope my anxiety (and the issue that is causing my anxiety) get better soon because I have two exams coming up next week and I really need to concentrate. Ain't nobody got time for your shenanigans, anxiety!

To those who've prayed and continue praying for me: thank you! I know that it's due to all your prayers that I haven't had a full-blown panic attack because this situation is intense and I would've already had a major attack by now.

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that you have a great week! :D

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

MuteMath and My Official Reversion: Our 10-Year Anniversary

Yes, I'm totally procrastinating right now... though I'm using this as my excuse to do my weekly writing for the Revolution of Love link-up. ;) Yes, I should be doing the homework assignment due tonight, which is the Weiss Intelligibility Test on a child. Yes, I've technically already completed it but I need to go over it and make sure it's done properly. Yes, it's been almost a full week since my last post. Mea culpa to it all. ;)

I wanted to write this quick blog post because I had a sudden urge to listen to MuteMath's self-titled/debut album this afternoon, specifically the song "Chaos." As I was driving, listening to the song, I remembered how this album is intrinsically linked to my official reversion a decade ago. I don't remember the official date of my official reversion. The seeds were planted June 2006 but I didn't fully commit to returning to the Church until the last week of September 2006. I want to say it was between September 24th and 26th. Those dates are sticking out in my mind but I'm not sure on what specific date I made things "official." This album, MuteMath, was released on September 26, 2006. See why I say they're linked? I actually listened to "Chaos" and loved the song before I listened to the entire album. I couldn't understand why the lyrics hit so close to home at the time -- I was still trying to figure out my thoughts and feelings -- but there was a reason why the song was sticking out.

Here's a sample of the lyrics to "Chaos":
I know you stay true when my world is false
Everything around's breaking down to chaos
I always see you when my sight is lost
Everything around's breaking down to chaos

It's hard to trust anyone again
After all the let downs I've been through
Haunted by what I've been through
Air still trapped while I still can't breathe
And I'm screaming out
Give me hope somehow
And I know, yeah I know, yeah


What I later found out was that MuteMath -- though they don't label themselves as a Christian band and will say they're not one -- is composed of musicians who just happen to be Christian. When I learned this, and went back and really listened to the lyrics, I saw why this album was the perfect companion to my reversion; the songs can easily be interpreted in terms of one's relationship with God and our faith.

When I wrote the blog post about why I stopped making plans -- serendipitously posted on September 24th, which may be the exact date of my official reversion -- the song "Control" came to mind, especially the following lyrics:

 "Move me up through the darkest clouds
'Til I've lost in the sun every shadow of doubt
There is no better find than to find myself with you
In a fog you are all I see
I'm inviting you closer with each time I breathe
Surrender has somehow become so beautiful..."

Paul, the singer/writer, said the song was: "... my 4-minute sprint to get as far away as I can from everything that compels me to maintain control. My very nature wants me to play life as though it's a chess match against circumstances. Always thinking 20 moves ahead can be exhausting. This song is nothing short of an urgent prayer to find rest."

I've actually never seen this band perform live -- something always happens to prevent me from going to one of their L.A. shows -- but I've still loved their music and this album hasn't left my CD player (I didn't get an mp3 player until I was 23, Christmas of 2008) and then iPod touch since I purchased it. That's 10 years of beautiful memories attached to certain songs; different songs evoke different memories and different phases of my first 2 years of reversion.

I found that someone uploaded the entire album up on YouTube. It's been up for over a year and hasn't been taken down so I'm assuming it's okay to post/share it. If not, I'll take it down. Either way, I'm going to share it because it played such a huge part of my reversion.

Happy (belated) 10th anniversary MuteMath! Thank you for the wonderful memories and for always reminding me of the lovely journey I've been on since my official reversion.