Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cutting the Outside Noise

I had a sort of "screen-free" two day break in which texts went unanswered and there was no activity from me on either Facebook or Twitter. I got the idea after re-reading a novel I'm now going to call my guilty pleasure. What I didn't expect was a very eye-opening (are we sick of that buzzword yet?) experience. Well, just the latest one because I've been having so many of them lately.

During my screen-free break, I worked on my family tree (and ended up discovering the names of my 4th and 5th great-grandparents from the late 1700s!) After I was done with that, I just felt like taking a trip down memory lane and it ended up being the best decision I've made in recent months.

I ended up reconnecting with, well, I'll say an "old friend" during a trip down memory lane. For years (yes, years) I've felt like there have been a few things that have been "off." Every time I felt like I was "myself" once again, something threw me for a loop and I ended up back to square one. I've been dealing with anger, impatience, frustration, and a general feeling of disconnect. I've felt it since my father's death. I can pinpoint most of it to that event. Enter my "old friend."

The conversation went something like this:
Me: I miss the old me.
O.F.: What do you mean?
Me: Do you remember what I used to be like when I was like 19-20? What words would you have used to describe me back then?
O.F.: Hmm... dreamy, romantic, a dreamer... thoughtful, gentle, emotional, deep, and very sensitive.
Me: But I'm so different now. I'm nothing like that.
O.F.: You can get that part of yourself back. She's in there... you just need to cut out all the outside noise. (pause, after I started internalizing things.) That dreamy, idealistic girl... she's not gone, she's just hiding.

It dawned on me that I was letting a lot of the "outside noise" alter me without really realizing. I mean, I've sort of realized that lately (and I think you can see some of that in my latest blog posts) but it didn't really hit me just how much until tonight.

I seriously considered shutting down this blog as well as my social media accounts for a split second. The last time I "cut all the noise" was when I was able to be myself without censoring myself or being fearful of what others said to and thought about me. For those of you who've read the first novel I wrote (When Two Worlds Collide), let's just say that was talked about at the end of Chapter 17 actually happened to me. That year or so that I was off social media and it was really hard to get a hold of me? Bliss. Of course, I cut out more than the online noise in those days. My "friends" then were terrible. The friends I have now are super lovely so I can't really go off and disappear like I did last time. I'm quite determined to do a modified version of what I was forced to do back then... only this time it's more voluntary and being done for my own good.

I think accepting the fact that I'm a highly sensitive person and that I do need to cut some of the outside noise that has been causing some inner turmoil has given me the courage to say "okay, I know I thrive when I can just do my thing and cut out all the outside noise (side note: 'sup, new buzzword?) so I'm just going to go for it."

I know I often say that I'm going to limit my time online and that lasts for only a couple of weeks but now I sort of have my old friend to keep me accountable... and hopefully a little busy. Yes, I remember what I used to do back then; how I didn't need the internet or social media.

Do you ever feel like your life has come full circle with a lot of things? It's the 10th anniversary since my reversion. I went through a lot of illnesses/health scares a month ago. A lot of that felt like deja vu to summer of 2006. Now, with the old friend, it feels like I'm getting a second chance to get that right as well. It's almost like I'm getting a second chance to do a lot of things differently so I can finally move on from this plateau I've been stuck on for the past decade. Maybe I'm being silly or I'm reading too much into it but it does feel like God is saying "take everything you've learned and keep moving forward. It's time."

Anyway, it's almost midnight and I have my prayers to get through so I should go. :) If y'all can please say a prayer for me, I'd greatly appreciate it. Let's just say that tomorrow I'm going to face yet another thing that had a major impact in my life when I was younger and I'm going to need both a lot of courage and charity to get through the next two days or so. Thank you in advance!

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

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Make Absolutely No Apologies For This

I know this is going to undoubtedly bring some pointed comments and maybe some possible arguments (that I will refuse to partake in) but I just need to say this for my own peace: I make absolutely no apologies for trying to connect what happens in my life with my faith.

I see every experience as a way to grow in my faith and in my relationship with God or as a possible clue from Him as to what I should be doing because I'm clueless and/or stubbornly set in my ways most of the time.

Illnesses? I see them as a way to remind myself that life isn't without sacrifices yet we must trust God and strive to move forward and stay on the right path.

Sudden changes in career and academic life when I felt "sure" and "comfortable" in the path? A good way to remember that sometimes we need to think less about what we want and more on what God's will is for us. Also, an excellent opportunity to grow as a person.

My failures? Good lessons in humility when pride tries to creep up.

I'm not sorry for anything I tweet or post (that isn't written in a moment of anger/annoyance). I know some of you have expressed your dislike of this (sometimes in a subtweet shortly after my own tweet) but that's how I've chosen to live my life. You don't have to like it or even agree with it. I just want y'all to know that I'm going to continue doing it. I'm truly sorry if you have a problem with it but I refuse to change this because it "gets on (your) nerves."

Anyway, I still have a couple of library books I want to get through before they're due so I'm going to go read them. :D I hope y'all continue to have a lovely weekend. :D

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Do You Have a Tsundoku Problem?

I have a problem. A massive problem. It's called tsundoku. "What's that?" you may ask. Apparently it means "buying books and letting them pile up, unread" (or something like that) in Japanese. Does anyone else have that problem?

It's bad. You know what? I'm going to go count how many books are on the living room bookcase and see how many of those I've yet to read/finish. It's 11:03 a.m. right now, let's see how long it takes me...

It's now 11:10 a.m. 7 minutes. In 7 minutes I found out I have 124 books on my small living room bookcase. Of those 124 books, I've not read 49 books. Out of those 49 unread books, 35 are Catholic -- either philosophy, teachings, or saint lives. That means roughly 39.5% of my books have been unread and of those unread books, approximately 71.4% of them are Catholic. Yikes! And, guess what. That doesn't include the books I've checked out from the library or other books I have scattered throughout the apartment. Yes, I have a problem.

I've banned myself from looking at the TAN, Sophia Institute Press, and other Catholic publisher catalogs that arrive in the mail because I always want more... but I have so many books I've yet to read. I've never finished Interior Castle or even The Story of a Soul. Not sure why. Do you know how many books I have on my Amazon wishlist that are Catholic? More than I should. lol. I'm definitely suited for the (lay) Dominican lifestyle... but I can't keep spending money and never reading these books. I think the one sitting on the bookshelf the longest has been there for almost the decade since my reversion and has yet to be read. Tsk, tsk Emmy.

So, new goal for me: try to make it through at least 10 of those books before I return to school in a little over a month. It can be done, especially since I'm pretty much stuck in the house when it's over 85 degrees which has been after 9 a.m. the past couple of days (it's supposed to go up to 109 today).

Does anyone else want to partake in this Tsundoku Challenge? Maybe not 10 books in a month (I have waaaay too much free time these days) but perhaps making a dent in your pile of unread books? I pledge that by August 28th I will have 10 books crossed off my "to read" list. I will even blog about it, whether I did it or not.

I really need to "out" myself with things I need to change because I know some of y'all will keep me accountable. If I keep them to myself, I'll most likely not follow through. Get on my case (if you know me on a personal level)! ;)

Alright, I should probably go do something. Maybe I'll finish one of the books I borrowed from the library... or take myself a snack (spoiler alert: self-care update coming this weekend).

I hope y'all had a lovely week and have a lovelier weekend. I also hope to have something posted tomorrow but we'll see. ;)

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Moving Forward with Trust and (Some) Confusion

This is how I've felt my moments of silence and prayer have gone lately:

Me: God, I'm confused. I thought I was supposed to take this one route yet things are working out for the other route.
God: Do you trust Me?
Me: Yes, I'm just confused as to why I feel like the other path was the one I was supposed to go down on but it didn't work out. I'm not even sure I like this other path.
God: Do you trust Me?
Me: Yes. I just don't know what I'm doing anymore. Have I been wrong all this time? Was I just supposed to get certain things out of my system by experiencing them so I could put all my effort into this other route?
God: Do you trust Me?
Me: Yes.
God: Then let go. Keep going down this path. Don't plan so far ahead and don't overthink things. Trust in Me and you'll get to where you're supposed to be.
Me: Okay. (inwardly panics because I like to have everything planned ahead of time.)

My eye-opening moments have not ceased since the last blog post I wrote. I feel like my entire world is getting turned upside, but in a good way. A lot of things that I was certain about? They no longer seem like they're what I expected. Example: grad school and career path.

I was certain that I was supposed to do the Theology MA degree. I felt in my element doing the coursework. I loved learning more about the faith. I did well (that C in Theology during the Fall quarter following my car accident notwithstanding). Then the whole thing with me having to suddenly leave JP Catholic happened. That was followed by the (also seemingly sudden) change back to the SLP field.

In a lot of ways, my eyes have been opened to the possibility that maybe the SLP field is where I belong after all. I've already done well in my previous course. I even have the option of taking an extra course to qualify for Latin Honors. (side note: I've declined because I don't need an extra class and I'm perfectly fine not getting honors at graduation; I'm not even planning on attending the graduation ceremony next May.)

It's been pointed out that I have a surprising amount of patience for children. It seems to be a sort of "superpower" because I can handle a lot of things most adults can't. Maybe not having children at 31 and having a desire for children makes me more patient. *shrugs* The children seem to respond well to me. Looking far younger than my years might be helping me there. I worked with a group of 3-5 year-olds with speech impediments two years ago and I had one very shy little guy open up to me after the first day. That helps a lot in this field, especially since my focus is on young children with speech impediments.

Perhaps I was meant to do a bit of the Theology MA before returning to the SLP field so I could be sure about my other discernment -- becoming a lay Dominican. My former SD did say I should finish school before I committed to going through that process. Maybe I was meant to see that this (Dominican instead of Carmelite) was the path I need to take while I work as an SLP/A. (Another side note: I'm currently not sure if I'll stay as an assistant or become a full SLP; I will revisit the idea in another two years). Not all lay Dominicans are professors or working in the education field. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was working towards his mining engineer degree before his death and he was a lay Dominican. Maybe I'll finish that Theology MA one day as a lay Dominican.

I've been having a lot of "well, that didn't work out as I planned but, okay, that actually makes a lot of sense" moments lately. I need to either see if my former SD would be willing to meet with me to help me figure this out or get some major peace about the new plans. Like I said, I feel like my world has been flipped upside down and I'm now taking things one day at a time. Besides the upcoming school year, I'm not planning anything else ahead of time. What's that saying? "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans"? Okay. No more planning. Taking things as they come. I'm down with that. Wait, are they kids still saying that? *shrugs* Playing it by ear, folks. ;)

So that's what's been up with me lately. I've been very, very physically fatigued lately but I kind of figured out that it was probably because we had maintenance workers at our apartment almost every day, all day for a couple of weeks and that just drained me of my introverted energy. If I need a day or two to recover from hanging out with friends, imagine how much more time I need to recover from having these gregarious (read: super extroverted) maintenance workers at my apartment for days and weeks at a time. I'll be fine. :D

Anyway, I think that's it from me for now. Gotta leave some things for the next blog post. ;)

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

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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

When the Dam Burst, I Was Honest with Myself

This past week was incredibly eye opening and revolutionary for me. While in earlier weeks I had been dealing with physical illnesses, this week it was all about emotional turmoil and spiritual dryness.

It happens every year around the anniversary of my father's death. I start feeling a bit apathetic, a little depressed, and a little anxious. It didn't help that I felt like people were dumping all of their problems on me and then disappearing once they "deposited" their problems into the human vault that is me. It's an unfortunate pattern with me; many friends only touch base when they need to unload and then I don't hear from them again until they need another round of venting.

After being physically drained from the dehydration, infection, and the consequent side effects of the medication, I wanted a little break. I wasn't going to get it with July 11th (anniversary of my father's death) coming up but I wasn't expecting to get overwhelmed with everything else that happened. Between the dumping of problems, various other comments about me and others (read: gossip), and feeling, well, almost bullied into doing things I had no desire to do, it's amazing I didn't have a full blown panic attack.

The dam burst around Thursday/Friday. I sobbed. I vented my own frustrations to my poor mother who had to deal with a daughter who was fed up. "I'm tired of people judging me," I cried. "I'm tired of being pushed into doing what I don't want to do. I'm tired of people make snide comments. I'm tired of..." the list went on. She let me cry because she knows I occasionally need to emotional release when I'm overwhelmed by others' problems. Does this happen often? No, but it happens more often than I'd care for.

After I let all that pent up frustration out I did something I had been working up the courage to do: I was honest when someone upset me. I started doing it even before I read this article on Introvert, Dear. Instead of just bottling it up or pretending I was okay, I told whoever upset me that I wasn't happy. "I'm upset right now... let's take a break from this conversation," was my mantra this weekend. The reactions were varied. Some chose a very passive-aggressive route. (Thanks for helping me identify it, all those psychology courses I took as an undergrad!) Thankfully, I have incredibly understanding people in my life. It became quite clear who I could count and whom I couldn't. I only talked to two friends this entire weekend -- both incredibly patient and supportive guy friends whom I trust implicitly. I took a break from most things until I got my thoughts and emotions sorted out.

A beautiful thing happened during this time: my spiritual dryness lessened considerably and my eyes were opened. As I immersed myself in prayer after feeling somewhat apathetic for weeks, I began seeing that certain situations had been pulling me away from God and my prayer life. A number of things I have to go to confession for came as a result of these situations. The worst in me was being pulled out by certain friendships. When I took a breather and really saw what was my fault and what I couldn't take "credit" for, a peace settled in me. Furthermore, I saw which friendships brought out the best in me; which challenged me to become a holier and more humble version of myself, one who was more aligned with the kind of woman I'd like to be. With perfect timing, the chaplet of St. Michael Archangel I'd custom ordered from Allison arrived when I had this breakthrough. Well played, God. Well played.

Even though most of us are out of college (and then some), there are a couple of things that don't ever go away as we get older; things we think will die in college. Recognizing that we occasionally need to look at our friendships and be honest with ourselves is something I periodically do but it's never easy. You develop a camaraderie with people who may lead you down the wrong path or whom may be all wrong for you. I'm still learning that it's okay to say "I appreciate what they've done for me but it isn't a healthy friendship for either of us" (because I DO take into consideration what I bring into the friendship for the other person). I'm learning to not feel guilty for realizing that it's actually an act of charity (to myself) to do something for myself; something that will help keep me on the right path towards holiness.

I have a massive mountain to climb in the next couple of weeks, but I'll keep my beloved Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's words in mind: "Verso l'alto." I must remember that I'm striving towards something that will be hard to obtain yet eternally rewarding: Heaven and sainthood. I can't do that on the path I've been on lately and it's going to take a lot of emotional suffering (on my side) to make things right. Well, the path to Heaven is not easy one but one I'll gladly suffer through to reach the destination.

That's it from me for now. I hope the temperatures go down a bit so I can make the last Mass of the day. I hate missing Mass so fingers crossed. In the meantime, I'll go read a book. :)

I hope y'all had a lovely weekend. :)

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