Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Simpler Life With Limited Technology

As I type this blog post out, I'm watching my favorite uber guilty pleasure show which I will not name because it's a cheesy kids/teen show. It's not new (first season released in 2006 and the last season in 2010) but I like watching it because it's inspired me to live a simpler life with limited technology.

Smartphones (I'm counting from the introduction of the iPhone forward) took off halfway through this series. Social media devotees were jumping from Myspace to Facebook... and Twitter was in its infancy. Netflix was a new thing. Things were moving along in technology but the series didn't move with it. By the time the series ended, there were more social networks, more gadgets, more... well, more things that we have now... yet the series (which centered around a group of high schoolers) didn't. Yes, they had cell phones (even smartphones) and laptops, but they didn't rely on them. In fact, unless they had to communicate with someone immediately (cell phones) or do their homework/research (laptop), these tech gadgets weren't used. Teenagers who weren't attached to their gadgets... ah, the memories from my own adolescent years (1998-2003). ;)

This Lent I've been trying to step away from technology for a simpler life. I've never been much of a phone person so texts can go unanswered for hours. I've been wearing a wrist watch (remember those dinosaurs? ;D) for a couple of weeks now so that I don't have to rely on using my iPod touch to check the time. (Bonus: my watch was the first big purchase I made with my first paycheck out of HS; yes, I've always been practical.) I try to drain my iPod touch so that I am not constantly checking Twitter, IG, FB, and email. I do use my iPod touch during prayer time (I use the iPieta app for The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary) but even this will eventually get phased out when I can afford the physical Little Office book.

I still rely on technology to talk to friends (as I had previously discussed in my Social Media and Lent post a couple of days ago) but it's different now. My bestie and I aren't social media slaves these days but we do take some time out of our days to catch up (she's been an amazing help while I've been going through my depression and double toothache double whammy days). Some days we message back and forth because we'll both busy ourselves with other things offline and it can take hours to check messages. It's been a good balance that has actually helped some of my friendships in great ways.

Technology isn't bad... but I think many of us are too overly attached to our gadgets. I include myself in that statement because I've been too attached to my iPod touch in the past. And to think that all of this wanting to live a simpler life was inspired by a cheesy teen show. Yep.

Anyway, just some thoughts for the day since I know I haven't blogged in a couple of days. Double toothache and depression has made some days harder than usual... and I really try not to be online when I'm having those kinds of days. :)

I hope you're all having a good Lent thus far. :D

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

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Confession: I Have Mild Depression

I've been trying to fight the symptoms for a while now but it's come to the point where I have to admit it: I have mild depression... and it stinks. Yes, the doctor has confirmed that I have been displaying the symptoms of depression for several weeks but I still tried to keep myself going.

I have the symptoms of atypical depression. I'm oversleeping during the day after not being able to sleep (or getting up quite often) at night. I'm super hungry most days. I've had the urge to cry at least once a day for the past couple of days for no obvious reason, though tonight was the first time I actually cried in weeks. I just want to stay in bed some days, mostly due to extreme fatigue. Sometimes my body feels like lead; my arms and legs feel heavy. My concentration is shot. I forget things on occasion. On most days I can distract myself... but some days are hard. Tonight has been the worst day/night in several weeks. I try to fight it, of course, but it's still a struggle.

I think that being sick for so long has caused this. Every day I wake up and see how pale I am -- and how dark the circles under my eyes are -- and it stays on my mind for most of the rest of the day. When I get weighed (once a week), I see that I make little to no progress in gaining weight despite the amount of calories I eat. All of that contributes to it.

I push myself every day. I push myself to get out of bed despite my exhaustion... to try to get all the nutrients and calories I need to help try to combat the anemia and other stomach issues (which the doctors have yet to figure out the root cause for)... to leave the house and do everything I have to do (errands and whatnot), etc. I've been consistently sick for almost 3 years now. I know it's a cross I have to bear and I while I accept it, I still feel sad. No amount of logic can make the emotions turn off.

Please don't begin saying "it's okay. Take it up to God." "Don't worry, God has this." All those words, while lovely and true, don't help how I feel because it feels like you're saying I'm not trying hard enough; like my feelings should not exist and that I should know better. I know God is with me. I know that when I feel like I have no one else (a sneaky thought that pops into my head from time to time though I know it's not true, it still comes up), I know I have Him. I pray. I try to give myself some comfort knowing that He won't leave me during this time. It has nothing to do with any lack in trust or faith in God. I DO trust Him and I do have a lot of faith that things will get better, but I still want to cry and I still feel sad. That's just how depression works.

The reason why I had stayed silent about this is because people immediately want to "fix" me... or make my depression about themselves, making me feel I'm a burden and/or not worth listening to. Yes, I'm talking from experience. However, I'm fairly open about what I go through because I hope that someday someone struggling will find this post and will be encouraged to keep going.

I'm lucky in so many ways. I've never been suicidal. I'm never harmed myself (nor do I want to). I can still have faith and hope despite how I feel at times. My depression isn't intense as others experience it... but it's still there. I pray that St. Dymphna will help me get out of this little hole and that those who are worse off than I am feel God's love during their darkest moments.

So, there you have it: my nickname is Emmy and I'm currently struggling with depression. I will pray for those who are currently in the same or similar boat.

Anyway, I just wanted to open up about this and share my thoughts and feelings with y'all.

Now I'm going to try to do... something. I'm not really in the mood to do anything but I know I have to so I won't dwell on how "blaaaah" I feel.

I hope y'all are having a good weekend thus far. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Judgey McJudgersons

Yesterday I was told a story that I can't confirm whether or not it actually happened but it was good to hear because it reminded me of something I (and, let's be real, most people) sometimes do: judge others.

I was told that the supervisor of our building made a comment about how I was still asleep at 10:30 a.m. when she and our building manager came to check on our master bathroom, which has been mold/mildew covered for months (yes, we reported it months ago). They had woken me up and I groggily went to open the door. That was last week. Yesterday I was told that she said: "ugh, she's still asleep at this hour?!" in a way that insinuated that I was a lazy person. Our building manager allegedly came to my rescue and said: "well, she studies at night and sleeps by day." That isn't true but it was last semester when I did my studying into the late night/wee hours of the morning; he doesn't know that I'm taking a break from school.

After hearing what was allegedly said, I was obviously not happy. I'd had a particularly rough night on which I barely slept at night due to horrible GERD/acid reflux and the morning was when I was finally able to sleep. Of course, she didn't know this and automatically made a snap judgement based on what she saw. Just like she didn't know that I hadn't slept more than an hour or so that night, she also doesn't know that sometimes I sleep in because of my anemia and (possibly) platelet levels; I'm just zapped for energy and it's hard not to fall asleep some days. It's a medical scenario but it reminded me of how we all make judgments without having the full facts.

That child that is crying or babbling or unable to sit still in the pew at Mass? How do we know that that child doesn't have special needs or is sick and whatever ails them is making them uncomfortable? That person who absentmindedly cuts in front of us while we walk? How do we know they don't have something weighing heavily on their minds? The person to snaps at us out of the blue? How do we know that they're not just having a lousy day or that they lack sleep or were unable to eat because of circumstances beyond their control? All these are just examples of things most of us deal with yet we don't stop and consider the logical explanations.

Yes, there are people who are just rude and nasty out there, but I like to believe that most people are good with bad moments. We all have them. I know that I personally get grumpy when I don't eat or sleep properly. I don't appreciate jokes when I'm feeling sick because of how lousy I feel. I'm human and, while friends joke that I have the superpower of patience, sometimes I fail... but there's always an underlying reason for it.

It's so easy to judge. If we're honest with ourselves, we know that we all do it. We all know that we're not supposed to judge -- that we have absolutely no right to judge anyone -- but it sometimes just happens during a moment of weakness. My challenge to myself (and whoever wants to participate) is to try to not pass a single judgement; to be more aware of my thoughts and actions. Just like I don't like people making snap judgments on me based on what little information they have, I know other people feel the same way about their own lives.

Maybe the next time a child is being disrupted during Mass, we can pray for them since we don't know why they're being noisy... or pray that the one person who likes to turn around and give the stink eye to the parent doesn't do it for once. Maybe next time someone does something that makes us upset, we should try to remember that there could be an underlying reason for it; one that would be excusable if only we knew what it was.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts this morning. :D

Oh! I'm headed out of the country this weekend and I was wondering if I could possibly bother y'all for some prayers? Just for a safe trip and that the business I have to attend to will go smoothly. Please and thank you! :)

I should probably go eat something. Two pieces of toast an hour ago wasn't enough. Oops. lol.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Silence and Lent

This conversation just happened about 5 minutes ago:

Me: You know what? I'm going to give up the internet after 8 p.m.;  9 p.m. today because I have a couple of things to finish.
Mom: Are you sure you can go without it?
Me: Yes. I need to for my health.

You know you really do need to disconnect when your mother doubts your success. lol. Add this to things I'm giving up this Lent.

This is my second Lenten post because I just scraped the surface with the previous post. I'm only giving up three things: time on social media, unnecessary spending, and time away from being "plugged in." I am, however, adding things on.

I guess the biggest thing I'm "adding on" classifies as both adding on and giving up and it's one of the biggest things I struggle with: silence. See, I don't like silence all that much. I always have something playing, even if it's a white noise app that plays the sound of rain or a crackling fire while I try to fall asleep. When my father passed away? I turned on music when I got home because music is my safety blanket. Home alone? Music, the white noise app, or the TV is on. Driving? Music is on.

The only time I like silence is when I'm trying to pray because I like to concentrate. Not always; sometimes I need Gregorian Chant or classical music playing if I feel it's too quiet. I'd say about 98% of the time I need it to be completely quiet. My spiritual director always asks me if I've had some time in silence to pray during the month and my answer is always the same: I have prayed... but I've not done any time just sitting in silence.

This Lent I've decided to take less time plugged in and more time in silence, especially whilst praying. This means unplugging and turning off the computer at 8 p.m. and turning the "do not disturb" function on my iPod at 8:30-9 p.m. so I won't get notifications. This means draining my iPod touch battery and charging it in another part of the apartment so I won't be tempted to check it. It means turning off the T.V. by 9 pm (10 pm on Tuesdays because mom and I love watching 19 Kids and Counting). My phone's ringer will stay off.

What am I going to do with my free time? I'm going to pray... read... write (but no novels; personal letters)... sit in silence and see if I can't get a good conversation with God going. I've been praying about several things for many years but I think that my life has always been so noisy that I might've missed the message a long time ago... and am still missing it. We shall see.

As I said, silence and I are not friends so this will be a good test for me. However, I'm not doing it just for myself and to test my willpower; this is something my spiritual director has been trying to get me to do for months and Lent is the perfect time to try. I may fail... but that doesn't mean that I will give up at the first slip up. Practice makes perfect, right?

Alright, well, I took 4 hours to write this blog post because mom and I got sidetracked with something that was way overdue for a couple of hours. Yes, this means that I already failed at unplugged at 8 p.m. (it's 11:11 p.m. right now). I'm still going to use the next hour to pray and enjoy some silence. An hour today is better than nothing.

I hope you all have a successful Lent... and please remember that if you slip up on one of your Lenten goals, you can always start again. This is the perfect time to remember that we all mess up but that we can always try to do the right thing again. :)

That's it for now.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Social Media and Lent

One of my oldest friends (who I've known for over a decade) doesn't like social media very much. She uses Facebook sparingly, doesn't have a Twitter account, and takes forever to reply to messages not on FB (and sometimes even on FB). I've always admired her for this (and many, many more) reason(s).

I'm currently sitting in my room, listening to Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Botti's version of "My Favorite Things." Funny coincidence because I've decided to give up one of my favorite things for Lent: social media. Not completely but... here, let me explain...

Last week -- without any heads-up to friends -- I gave up Google Talk after a certain hour as a trial run. I've noticed that social media has become a source of stress for me so I tried to eliminate something that is easy to give up first. Giving the instant messenger I used to communicate with friends a couple of hours before bed made a huge difference. I stressed out less and was generally less anxious and more at ease. That made me think about giving up social media for Lent... but I didn't commit to the idea until earlier today.

Last night, my iPod randomly began playing the iTunes session/live version of "Going to School" from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack. I didn't listen to the song last night but I did this afternoon. My friend (the same one who doesn't like social media very much) gifted me the EP almost 9 years ago when I was having a particularly bad anxiety moment. Every time I listen to the EP, I think of my friend, of that time of my life (around the time of my reversion, now that I think about it), and of how the soundtrack has always made me feel: relaxed, content, and just blissful. Reflecting on this, I knew that giving up social media (as I use it now) would be the best thing I could do this Lent.

I know I'm hyper-connected. Not as much as I used to be but, boy, I am still hyper-connected. I know a big reason for this is because most of my closest/oldest friends have moved away and/or live too far. My friend who inspired this blog post/Lent resolution lives in New England with her husband. One of my oldest friends moved to the Midwest with her husband, another close friend just moved to the East Coast with her husband and child, my oldest friend relocated to the South with her husband, and my bestie lives in the Midwest. Everyone is so scattered and I haven't seen most of them in years so we use social media to stay connected. Still, I know I shouldn't use this as an excuse to be online as much. The fact that social media regularly stresses me out because, well, some people aren't very nice and/or I'm an easy target for bored people who have nothing better to do than bother me should make me want to give it up completely. Yeah... not going to happen, at least not cold turkey. lol.

If I'm being honest with myself, I know that I'm online too much because I don't get enough human interaction, especially these days that I've been sick. Even though I'm very much an introvert, it still doesn't mean that I don't get lonely and miss having my friends around. I don't want to use that -- lack of human interaction -- as an excuse anymore. I'm going to start small (joining a specific book club in the near future) and then work my way up to other things I can do, time and money permitting.

I'm not giving up social media entirely because, well, how else am I going to keep in touch with my friends (especially those who are often times busy with their families and/or work and barely have a chance to send a quick message)? There's a reason why I only have 24 people on my current FB profile (and why it'll stay that way for a long, long time). I'm not giving up FB because that's what I use to communicate with my brother and my oldest/closest friends but Twitter will see me much less. Ditto for Instagram. If I post anything on either site it'll be because of the content, not just because I'm bored and need human interaction. I may take a little longer to reply to tweets and things because I'll need to give myself some much-needed breaks from social media, but I'll still be around if anyone needs me for whatever legitimate reason (that isn't another "hey, I'm bored... talk to me" message; those are slippery slopes to more time wasting.) 

So that's what I'm "giving up" for Lent... besides unnecessary spending. I usually don't give up things for Lent but I am this year. No more excuses. I don't have FOMO (fear of missing out); I just get bored and sometimes need some human interaction, which is easy to get through social media. Yeah, I need to work on that...

Anyway, that's part one of my Lenten goals. Yes, I have more than one post regarding Lent but the rest are things I'm taking on this Lent so... be on the lookout for that one at some point this week. Like tomorrow or Ash Wednesday. We'll see how busy I get. :)

I hope y'all are having a good start of the week. :D

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