Wednesday, May 24, 2017

(Foot-Tapping) I'm Not Impatient

(Note: this post is a continuation of yesterday's blog post.)

I'll admit normally a bit impatient when it comes to my health, financial, and academic/career issues. I'm patient with everyone else and their problems but I fail to do the same for me. Lately, I've been trying to practice more patience in all areas of my life, especially when it comes to taking care of myself. If I feel run down, I rest. If I feel sleepy, I nap. If I feel hungry (and it's close to lunch or dinner), I snack lightly. If I feel overwhelmed by something, I try to remind myself that it's not as important as I'm making it out to be. If I feel rushed/pressured to make a decision quickly, I remind myself that I'd rather take my time and "be late to the party" than do something that may be the opposite of what God wants for me. This last one has been the biggest temptation/struggle for me lately.

I like to have my ducks in a row. I like to have a clear path on how I'm supposed to move forward. I intensely dislike being stagnant. I like to have some sense of what the near future is holding for me. After I decided to take a break from studies (and I asked for an academic leave of absence instead of withdrawing completely), I immediately wanted to figure out what God wanted me to do. I drove myself a little crazy that first week because I wanted to figure things out ASAP. I was tempted to do a Holy Spirit novena right away but I held off until I felt it was the right time. Instead of jumping in, I took the first two weeks off and tried to relax. Tried is the key word. Not doing anything goes against my "need" to keep busy because I get bored easily. Still, I knew I needed the break and I tried not to feel guilty about not doing much.

I've looked into jobs to pay off my student loans. I've looked into other careers that I could do without an additional degree. I looked into shifting my focus back on my writing career. Along the way, none of those options have seemed like something I needed to explore. My focus had to be refocused once more on my health; on eating and sleeping well. I had to exercise a ton of patience with myself and, really, with God.

For about the past month or two, I've had no clarity on what God wants me to do. I've had zero plans for my life. I've been trying to go with the flow because I've learned that sometimes what we need is to have a lot of patience and a lot of trust. I was hit with a bit of depression earlier this month (though that's felt more like a spiritual attack than anything else) but I've still tried to keep myself focused on what I've felt God wants from me -- to take care of myself so that I can be ready for whatever is next in my life.

How is this tied to yesterday's good news? I've had to wait years to get good news about my health; 4-5 years to be exact. I've gotten so impatient at times -- especially when this particular cross has seemed too heavy for me to continue carrying it -- but I've kept praying and I've kept my sad attempts at trusting God always on my mind. Even Monday's hematology appointment had me exercising patience; they didn't call me into a room to get my results until an hour after my appointment time and then I had to wait another half an hour to get my hospital discharge papers after the doctor has seen me. I had waited years to get a hematology appointment. The hematologist kept cancelling my appointments until two doctors teamed up and pressured him into giving me the appointment. I waited months to get updated blood work results. I waited years to get my iron levels to where they are. A lot of waiting... and a lot of patience required.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out what God wants for me in the next couple of months. I've decided to take a break this summer since I haven't had a proper break from school for a couple of years. I will still work on the third novel and the memoir (when the woman whose life story I'm ghostwriting has the time to give me more material) to occupy my time and mind if only because I know that too much free time on my hands tends to get me into a lot of trouble.

There are some things that have come up as things I can potentially do this autumn that I'm discerning through a novena to the Holy Spirit (I'm on day 6 today). I will also soon read a book on the discernment of spirits to try to figure things out while I wait to find a spiritual director. I'm trying to take things slow and no jump into action without proper discernment. It goes against my natural impulse to get things done -- and get them sorted quickly -- but I know it's for the best to keep doing this.

Anyway, just wanted to share this because I know some of you may be in similar boats -- whether it's trying to figure out academic, health, financial, and/or relationship/vocation issues. I know it's so much easier to say "have patience" than to do it but it's better than driving yourself crazy and/or doing something you later regret. Having to wait stinks and it can seem like a waste of time. It's one of the hardest things to do in this world. I've done a number of things out of impatient impulse and I've suffered the consequences; I learned the hard way. Don't be an impulsive, impatient Emmy. ;)

Alright, I need to skedaddle. I have a couple of library books that I've been neglecting and I want to get them done before they're due. :)

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far! :D

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm in Shock. Is This Real Life?

I wanted to blog yesterday because I received good news but I had to wait to get actual details (which I officially received last night) so I'm blogging now.

You guys know how I've been anemic and folate deficient "officially" for about a year now? (side note: anemia has been a reoccurring issue for at least 2-3 years). You know how I had low calcium and white blood count levels last autumn? You know how poor my health has been, with my platelets lower than normal for years? All of that warranted a round of roughly 70 (seriously) different tests that were taken from 10 (yes, ten) vials of blood last Friday that was ordered by the hematologist after my first hematology appointment earlier this month. During the previous blood draw -- in early March -- I was still anemic and in a bad way. It has been a little over 2 months and I hadn't taken my "blood builder" multivitamin daily. I didn't think the results were going to be much improved. I'm sure God said, "Oh ye of little faith" at this point.

I went to my follow-up appointment yesterday. I was hoping for a slightly above normal number for my iron and folate levels (and everything else). The doctor (new to me) who saw me told me my labs were pretty good. My platelets are still a little low (at 129k; 141k is the lowest number within normal range) but everything else looked good to her. I didn't get specifics beyond that. I asked her if I was anemic. She looked at me like "ooh, giiiiirl,. you don't even know..." and informed me, with a little laugh, that I was no longer anemic. I asked her about the folate level. Again, slightly amused, she said that I was no longer folate deficient and it was most likely due to the multivitamin I was taking (that Hallie had recommended to me years ago but I hadn't taken -- because it has gluten in it -- until late March). I didn't get numbers. I was just told that I was in a good place and that I have to follow-up in late July since they want to see if my levels will finally stabilize with the multivitamin I'm taking.

I came out of the appointment ecstatic! I had remarked to Mom that I haven't been looking as pale lately though I'm still pretty fair skinned when I don't tan/burn in the sun. She reminded me that I've always been fair skinned so looking a little pale (from the anemia) was never too noticeable. However, the rosy cheeks I've had lately have been a clear indication that my health has returned to where it should be.

It wasn't until last night that I saw what the actual numbers were from my iron and folate levels were. My iron level went from 36 to 124 in a couple of months. My folate level went from a dismal 3.60 (>7.00 is the normal range) to 12.90. I was in shock. "Wait, whaaaat?!" I don't think my iron level has been over 50 in about 4-5 years. My folate level has never been over 3.70 (from the time they started checking it, at least). Is this real life?

I looked at the rest of my results. My white blood count is still a little low and I was slightly dehydrated when they drew blood but everything else looked good. My calcium and sodium levels were normal for the first time since last autumn as well. I wanted to cry happy tears. It's been years since I've been this healthy.

I'm grateful to God for this blessing of health. Furthermore, I'm grateful for the intercessions of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Joseph, and St. Catherine of Siena because my health has/had been intentions in novenas prayed for their intercessions. Mom's gotten into the habit of making sure she asks Bl. Pier Giorgio for his intercession for my health every morning. I'm grateful for their intercessions. I'm grateful that God has granted me this long-sought blessing of health. I'm grateful to everyone who prayed for me. I'm also grateful for one big gift God had granted me in all of this: the gift of patience. I'll touch on this topic tomorrow since it would make this post way too long to read in one sitting. I've already started writing the post so I'll just schedule it. ;)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this bit of good news with y'all. Thank you to those who've been praying for my health!! I greatly appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart! God willing, this is the start of the new normal for me.

That's it for now! I hope you are all having a lovely start of the week!

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Oh! Hi, 1000th Blog Post!

Hello and welcome to my 1,000th blog post.

"Whaaaat?" That was my reaction when I posted the last blog post and saw that it was the last one in the triple digits. I can't believe I've written a thousand posts in the span of 9 years and (almost) 5 months. Crazy! Honestly, I can't believe I've kept this blog this long. I thought I would keep it for a couple of months or no more than maybe 2 years, tops but, here I am... still writing.

Those who've been reading this blog since the beginning (or, at least, within the first year of its inception), have gone through so much growth with me. When I started this blog, I was involved with someone whom I still in keep in touch with on occasion but is no longer one of the most important people in my life. I haven't really talked about my personal life since and have vowed not to until there's a wedding looming.

You've read about my struggles as an undergraduate, as a graduate student, and now in my academic limbo state. You've read about what I suffered when I was at the CINO college (now university) -- how much the professors made me cry for having an orthodox and "traditional" view of Catholicism. You've read my indecision about what to study; where to study.

You've been with me through my father's final cancer diagnosis... through the last months of his life... through his reversion to the faith (his 24th birthday present to me) two months before his death... through his death and burial... and through that first year in which I was emotionally numb...

You've been with me through illnesses and financial difficulties... through my lowest points... through my car accident... through my bouts of spiritual dryness (which I am currently undergoing again)... the craziness that was most of my 20s (I started this blog when I was 22!) into my early 30s (I turn 32 at the end of this month)...

You've also seen me at my best. You've read the joy it was to graduate from college after years of putting it off to help take care of my father (or myself)... the first time I was published in a Catholic publication... when I started my freelance writing career... when my first (and second) novel was published... when I was accepted to all three of my top graduate program choices...

We're going on 9 and a half years of this adventure together. Some of you have been reading since the beginning. Some of you have joined later on. Some of you are still new to this blog. It doesn't matter when you started following, you're still a part of this journey with me.

I still don't understand why anyone would want to read what I have to write. I'm no one extraordinary. I'm actually quite boring. I'm just your average gal who decided, on Christmas Day 2007, to write about her life and her journey through learning about Catholicism. I'm still learning. I'm actually going through sort of re-reversion period right now. I promise to explain this, and thoroughly, at some point in the future because it's a long story.

I want to thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your prayers and support throughout the years/months/weeks/days. I've come to close to shutting down this blog but, somehow, someone always seems to message me and encourage me to keep going so I do.

I have a lot of really, really, really exciting things coming up in my life in the near future. I will give y'all clues: London. Writing. Career. Discernment. Vocation/Relationship. Reversion. Travel. Possibly another degree. Rediscovery. Faith. I will write about these things at some point; most likely as I'm about to embark on them or when I'm deep enough into it that I can talk about it.

Stick around because I'm apparently not done writing yet. I'm sorry. lol. Oh, the writer in me. ;)

That's it for now. I have a lot of things to do today but I wanted to take a little break to write this post.  My 1,000th post. Nope, it hasn't sunk in yet. lol.

Oh! Before I go, I was wondering if I could bother y'all for some prayers. As I've shared before, I've had pancytopenia (low red and white blood cells as well as low platelets) on-and-off for years and tomorrow I'll have 18 (!) vials of blood drawn for the most thorough blood work they've ever done on me. They're testing everything -- vitamins, minerals, complete CBC, bone marrow, clotting, lupus, and seemingly any and all tests to rule things out a blood disorder or the presence of antibodies in my system. Thankfully, I won't have to fast but it's still a lot of blood. I've been feeling a little more weak/fatigued than usual lately so I'm a little worried about all the vials that will be taken. I would greatly appreciate any prayers you can spare. I just don't pass out or have any complications from the blood draw. I also hope for good news with the results because I'm tired of always feeling tired because of the anemia. Thank you in advance!

Alright, I gotta go do errands and try to find some good carne asada because I need to really prepare for tomorrow. All the iron-rich foods! lol. ;)

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far!

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What St. Brigid of Kildare Reminded Me

What led to more than a week without a blog post? My old laptop finally biting the dust... the new laptop's graphics being so grainy and pixelated that I had to return it and get a new one (different brand and model) the next day... downloading the smallest amount of things necessary to get the new (new) laptop working... and then spending the next two days in bed. That's just scratching the surface but you get it. It's been a crazy week. lol.

Somewhere during that week I read and finished Three Irish Saints: A Guide to Finding Your Spiritual Style by Dr. Kevin Vost. (side note: I will always only link Goodreads for books; I won't try to sell you anything.) This won't be a typical book review because, honestly, I don't like reviewing books. I don't even do it on Goodreads unless I feel like I need to warn friends or I love it so much it needs to be recommended beyond the 5-star rating I give it. I will, however, share what I got out of it in case you're wondering what the end results may be.

Despite being a Hibernophile (definition: someone fond of Irish culture, history, language, and all things related to Ireland), I didn't know too much about any of the 3 saints that were featured in the book. I was aware of St. Kevin of Glendalough only because one of my oldest friends (who isn't even Catholic) went to visit Glendalough when she was still a student at St. Andrew's University and took a trip to the pilgrimage site. If it weren't for her pictures (which I think are still on Facebook... I should check; it's been nearly a decade), I wouldn't have heard much about him. I knew the very superficial basics on St. Patrick and St. Brigid of Kildare but, really, not enough. This book changed all of that.

Despite the fact that St. Brigid was my patron saint for the year about 2 years ago, I still was in the dark about her history. It wasn't until I read this book that she was a kindred spirit. As I read her life's story, I realized how much I had in common with her when I was a child... and it made me realize that I wanted to make some major changes in my life.

In a nutshell, she was very giving... to the point where even the Sisters in the order she founded would hide things from her so she wouldn't give them away and leave them all destitute. St. Brigid didn't care about that; she wanted to give the little she could in order to help others. Her heart ached when she saw someone in need and did what she could to make sure they go it. She even felt pity for a dog and gave choice bacon to him despite it being destined for the royal household she worked for. A couple of times I was reminded of how I used to do something similar when I was a child. No, I didn't give bacon to a dog in or out of a royal household. 

When I was a little girl, I remember how much my heart broke whenever we went to Mexico and I used to see little kids begging for money or trying to sell little things just to make enough money to help their families. One day, when I was about 8 or so, I saw two kids a few years younger than me, sitting on the sidewalk, dirty and underclothed. My dad had just purchased a bag of peanuts for me and when I saw them, I didn't hesitate to give it to them. The reason why this particular incident stands out for me was because I was promptly ridiculed by a close family member for it. They laughed quite derisively in my face, making me feel ashamed and embarrassed about what I had done. 

Imagine that you're an extremely sensitive child and that someone you love mocks you and then gets mad for something you wanted to do to help others. It's going to leave an impression (a negative one) on you. That happened almost 24 years ago and I still remember it... including the hurt feelings. From that time until my early 20s, this family member would get angry at me whenever I tried to help others in need, whether it be monetarily or otherwise. I would have to do things either behind their back or just simply walk by and have my heart break in the process, just to maintain the peace with this family member.

This family member is no longer physically in my life anymore so when I can help out, I do so without second thought. My mother has always encouraged it (she was another person who would be on the receiving end of this family member's anger when it came to being charitable) so I don't have to worry about doing anything when she's with me. Whether I help others often or not is between God and me... but I realized that I'm not doing as much as I would like to.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've grown more selfish in recent years, especially since Mom and I hit economic hardships since my father's passing and my health issues that have prevented me from working away from home. I'm a lot more careful with money because we've known what it has been like to go without food for a couple of days. It's a fear that's set in, especially after all the malnutrition has caused me the health issues I'm still trying to recover from. All the health issues I'm enduring now? All came from the lack of proper nutrition and poor diet I had as recent as 3 years ago. And cue my friends getting mad at me for not letting them know I was eating for days in 5... 4... 3...

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati has been on my mind and in my heart a lot in recent weeks. I mean, we all know he's my saint crush and all but he's been my constant heavenly buddy lately. I was even inspired to do a novena at the beginning of this month, which my mom joined me in. When I started looking back at his life, especially now that I'm looking into becoming a lay Dominican, one of the biggest things that has stuck out was how he used his wealth to help others. When he was a child, he even gave the shoes off of his feet to give to a little boy who didn't have any... and did it in a way that no one saw because he didn't want to get in trouble. There's another kindred spirit! 

I had been thinking about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (which Bl. Pier Giorgio was a part of) ever since I saw them listed on a local parish's website. The parish is linked to the Dominicans and is where the lay Dominicans meet up once a month which makes sense. I've felt a bit overwhelmed with too many options for my future (only one of which appeals to me but brings no income to pay back my student loans). 

Through Bl. Pier Giorgio and now St. Brigid, perhaps the Holy Spirit is trying to nudge me to make the commitment to help out with the SVdP while I find a job and while I continue to recover my health. It won't bring in any money but it would be a better use of my time than trying to figure out what to do in between writer's blocks. Helping those in need is something that's been close to my heart since childhood and I do have an awful lot of time on my hands these days. The ideas are coming into my mind, y'all...

Anyway, that's what I got out of the book and what St. Brigid has inspired me to do. The book has been on my reading list for years but I didn't get it from the library (it was on hold for a while) until recently. I sure am glad I was able to read it and now it's going to go on my list to purchase later on. I'm currently reading Saints Who Battled Satan: Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy by Dr. Paul Thigpen which is interesting thus far. Let's hope that brings good things as well.

I think that's it for now. Since I once again have a working laptop and I'm currently on the mend from what hit this weekend, I hope to blog for often. :D

I hope you've all been having a lovely start of the week!

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Poof! They're Gone... and I Feel Free

For the last couple of days, I had been slowly going through a number of bookmarks I've accumulated over the last couple of months. While I'm in school, I tend to bookmark all the articles from news sites and blogs that are delivered to my (email) inbox so that I can read them over the weekend or whenever I have free time. Sometimes I bookmark too many things that I want to read. Sometimes I really enjoy an article and want to save it for future reference so I keep them saved in a separate folder. I also bookmark things that I know I will later need, for school or work. I had things since about 2008-2009 marked... and, last night, they all disappeared. Just like that, poof! They're gone.

I didn't panic, at first. It had happened before and after a reinstall, things were back to normal. Not this time. I reinstalled and uninstalled Google Chrome a couple of times. I signed in (which I don't normally like doing; I try not to have too many things connected to my Google account), hoping that it would sync. I looked up solutions and tried everything I could find. I tried to restore from an earlier date (which brought its own problems... which many people have had with Windows 10). I looked up my saved data online (I use online backup storage). Nada. It was all gone. Cue the panic.

"What am I going to do?!" I asked myself in frustration. "I had links saved for the novel... for work... for the blog..." From 9:30 p.m. until nearly 1 a.m. last night and again from 4:45 a.m. through 10 a.m. this morning, I tried to come up with a solution. The only difference between last night and this morning was that I saw the disappearance of the bookmarks as a blessing... and perhaps a sign from St. Joseph.

"Why did you mention St. Joseph?" you may be wondering. Simple, this happened on the last day of my 30-day novena to St. Joseph in which the main petition was for clarity on my vocations (career and otherwise) and health. I had a ton of bookmarks for all three areas of my life; bookmarks that I was hoping to get to this week as I'm researching some things. Suddenly, I had no references to my ideas. I also didn't have the stress of having to go through months/years of saved links. I feel liberated and physically light. No, I have to start from zero...  just like I'm doing with my career in general.

It may be that my malfunctioning laptop (which I bought at the start of the program and started going haywire during finals week right before I dropped it), the disappearance of bookmarks (making me start from zero), having to leave the degree unfinished, and the focus on my health (with my first hematology appointment) all within the same week is pure coincidence. Either way, coincidence or not, it made one thing clear: I really am starting from zero in many areas of my life.

As I discussed in the previous blog post, I have no concrete (long term) plans right now. I have an idea of what I'm going to do in the near future -- working on a memoir, on my own third novel, and nurse myself back to health -- but I'm basically starting over with everything else. I left one degree. I picked up my chosen career post graduation (from my first BA) as I've felt called to do. I'm starting to discern becoming a lay Dominican (or Oblate of St. Benedict). Hello, clean slate. No bookmarks on things I had hoped would help me. No financial stability that an in-demand career path would've given me. No going back to any of the previous ideas I had (via saved articles). 

As I tried to add bookmarks to my reinstalled browser, I realized just how many links I had saved up but, ultimately, didn't use. I realized that while it meant that I would have to start a lot of my research over, the fact that I have to do it over again seems more like a fun adventure. Furthermore, losing the bookmarks (after the initial period of panic) made me realize how much it didn't matter to me. During last year's St. Andrew Christmas novena, I asked for the gift of being detached from worldly things that would not benefit my soul and this loss made me realize that I'm seeing the fruits of that novena, months after I made the petition.

Cue the moment of realization that this is just the latest in a string of instances in which I no longer care about certain things I once valued as important. Social media? I don't use it as much. Thinking about what people think of what I blog about? Not high on my list of worries. Fearing about what people would think about yet another (MA being the other) degree I abandoned, though due to circumstances beyond my control? Doesn't register. 

I feel free. I feel free from the pressures of things I once considered important but have come to see that they truly weren't. I feel free to pursue God's will for me without worries (though I've been facing some problems in my personal life due to it). I feel free to focus on what's important and let everything else disappear into the background. It's been a blessing.

I'm not going to lie, I'm glad I'm done with the St. Joseph novena because everything that can go wrong, went wrong during those last 30 days. At the same time, it was also a blessing. Through every hiccup, I've felt getting closer to where God wants me. I had a really, really hard week last week (to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if I was under back-to-back spiritual attacks) but now I can sit here, look back, and see that it was worth it. It sure didn't feel that way last week but, in retrospect, it was.

That's where I'm at right now. Well, mostly. I have other things for another post. ;) 

Oh! And if you're wondering which are the websites I ended up bookmarking again (that I use almost every day):
- Hotmail
- Gmail
- This blog
- Los Angeles Public Library (for eMedia)
- Kindle Manager (for eBooks borrowed from the library)
- Spoken Bride (no comment)

As I said, this laptop (my only laptop/PC) has been malfunctioning for the past week so we'll see how often I can blog until I get a new one. I'm actually trying to use it until it kicks the virtual bucket because I'm trying to make my savings last for as long as possible while I look for a job (that pays). Yes, I'm constantly saving/backing up my files online so that I don't lose anything important. Mama didn't raise no fool. ;)

And that's it for now. I got very little sleep last night 3 hours or so and an hour and a half-long nap this afternoon didn't help much so I may just go take another nap or do something to help keep me from falling asleep until it's time for bed. Maybe I'll have a dance party. Wait, can you have a dance party to Bud Powell, George Gershwin, and Charlie Parker...? (side note: totally grooving to Bud Powell's version of "A Night in Tunisia" as I type this.)

I hope y'all are having a lovely start of the week!

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