One of my best friends, Danica, took this picture earlier this year when she was visiting Los Angeles. By the way, no, that is NOT an engagement ring. That is a claddagh ring that I've worn as a "promise" ring since my 23rd birthday -- as in, I promise to remain chaste in thought and action and this is a reminder that my heart belongs solely to God until the right man comes along. When that man finally shows up, he must be willing to share me with God. ;) That is why I chose this particular version of the claddagh ring: the heart symbolizes my heart, the crown on top of it to remind me of God and how He holds my heart, and the Celtic Trinity knot (triqueta) to remind me of the Holy Trinity. Traditional versions have hands holding the heart instead of the Trinity knot holding the heart in place. :) Just a quick note before I get into the rest of the post. ;D
Last year was the year this nerd grew up. This year was the year that this nerd fell in love. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, let me just clarify that I do not mean romantic love. :) This was the year that I learned to love life again. After having spent most of 2009 and part of 2010 numb following my father's death, I was revived this year. As cheesy as it sounds, everything looked new and fresh... like how you imagine the start of Spring to be like. The cold, the clouds, and depressing state disappears and a new life begins. That is how it was for me. The flowers bloomed, the sky got brighter, and the warmth enveloped me once again. There were new lessons I learned that will stay with me for the rest of my life; lessons that will contribute to making me a better person.
Lent was probably the most significant time for me this year. On Ash Wednesday, my buddy Joe and I got the privilege of getting to chat (very briefly) with our new archbishop, Abp. Jose H. Gomez... and he blessed the Rosary I had just purchased at the Cathedral gift shop for my new car before we left. Pretty cool way to start, if you ask. (side note: I also attended his Installation Mass, which was emotional for me because I feel like it's a new era for us Angelenos; one we truly needed.) While I did not do everything I wanted to do during Lent, I certainly felt the impact what that specific time was all about. I truly celebrated Lent more properly this time around. It was strange because of everything I had experienced the year and a half prior to it. We lost my niece's daughter (my dad's first great grandchild) on St. Patrick's Day. Everything that followed made me appreciate the family I have and made me grateful for what I do have.
In March I bought my first car with the help of my big brother, Pedro. I began taking driving lessons (shout out and a "thanks" to Joe who spent weeks teaching me how to drive before I got a professional to get me ready for the driving test). I got my license in May, weeks before my 26th birthday. A couple of "bucket list" items crossed off my list before your next birthday is not too bad. ;) The fact that I am now a licensed driver and that I have been able to drive on an almost daily basis (though locally) is something I would've only dreamed of a few short years ago. The fact that my anxiety has subsided (though not completely; I still have my moments) enough to be able to drive and that I am able to have that freedom is a huge blessing. It was interesting to see how my friends reacted to the excitement I showed while I was in the process of practicing for my driver's test. I'm sort of a late bloomer when it comes to a lot of things and this was just one of them.
Another thing I'm sort of "late" with: graduating college. Something I accomplished recently: I made the Dean's List at my CINO college. 3.8, baby! :D I worked my tush off for that and I did it without compromising my beliefs which was a miracle. I let the anger I felt towards the place (anger that they openly defied authority and taught us things that hurt our Faith more than anything) go and I decided to "kill" them with kindness and with my own hard work. Of course, it helped that I only had one Religious Studies course in the Fall and that everything else wasn't too bad. I declined an invitation to join a national honor society because I didn't feel right taking it. I also did not want to let it go to my head. I've worked hard in college and knowing that is enough for me. I will continue to work hard next semester and hope that I will finish with the same mentality I have now. I am still unsure if I will pursue a Master of Arts in Theology or Creative Writing but I have loads of time to think about that.
So, did I fall in "love" love? No. I have yet to fall in "love" love. No luck in that department but I'm enjoying this time of preparing myself for my future spouse and of being single. Also, I've been too busy with school and other things so I had no time to date. I did, however, decide to that I am now at a point in my life where I can restart dating so we'll see what happens next year. I am far too independent for my own good so I am glad I've had a chance to get it out of my system while I still can. lol. My time will come when God says it will. And this is probably the closest any of y'all will get to knowing about this part of my life until I marry. lol. Merry (late) Christmas. ;)
So, while I did not fall in love love, I fell in love with life. I have this new-found appreciation for things I had been taking for granted. Yes, I did have a gnarly (I'm from Southern California; we use words like that ;)) throat infection that lasted two and a half months. Yes, I still occasionally have anxiety and panic attacks (though the least amount I've had in years). Yes, I am still unemployed (and not by choice) and mom and I are having the worse financial crisis we've ever had. Yes, I still dislike my school and look forward to the day I graduate. Yes, I still have goals that I wish to achieve and have not had the opportunity to complete yet. In spite of everything, I am truly happy and I love my life. I love that God has shown me the right time to reflect on what's truly important. I love that my relationship with Him has only gotten better. I love that my mom's relationship with Him is stronger as well. She now goes to confession regularly and rarely misses Sunday Mass now -- something that 2-3 years ago would've seemed impossible. I love who I am and who I'm becoming as a get older. I don't think I've ever used the word "love" so much in a single blog post before but, hey, y'all knew I'd be talking about love. ;)
I could go on and on but I think y'all get the gist. I am happy that I've learned to love once again and that I am taking this into the next year. :)
Anyway, this is it for this year. Thank you for sharing yet another year with me. A special thanks to my guest blogger, Andrew, for giving me something good to post when I had writer's block. Thank you to my friends for sticking by me during my crazy moments, especially poor Angelica, Danica, and Delaney who got most of the craziness. lol. My journey is not yet over and I look forward to another year sharing it with y'all. :D
As always, thanks for reading and God Bless! :D