Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Rosary and My Mama

This is going to be quick since I have about 700+ pages to get through by Saturday and, well, I need to finish ASAP. (I take my side projects/duties seriously.)

Mom and I have been praying the Rosary every day (except for Saturday and Sunday when her arthritis was so bad that she slept most of the day/evening) and it's been absolutely wonderful. I've been wanting to get her to do it more regularly since her proper reversion shortly before my dad passed away and it's finally sticking.

I've noticed some changes in my relationship with her as a result of our daily Rosary. If we get into a typical mother-grown daughter argument, we'll put it aside for the Rosary. Her strong, outgoing temperament (she's a sanguine-choleric, the most extroverted of the temperaments) often clashes with my more mellow, introverted temperament (phlegmatic-sanguine; see previous post) so there is bound to be a bit of mama-daughter disagreements. When it comes time to praying the Rosary, it's like everything changes. I can't speak for her but I myself feel a lot more calm and forgiving about halfway through the Rosary. And, since I have the mysteries and the order memorized, mom won't pray the Rosary without me so it's a wonderful bonding time. She carries around her Rosary everywhere she goes, too. I'm so incredibly proud of the effort my mom is making in learning about our beautiful Faith.

Who would've thought my mama (who just four years ago used to use excuses to get out of attending Mass and who just started going to confession three years ago) and I would reach this point? I'm a little pressed for time right now but I'll go back through my blog posts one of these days and compare how my parents were prior to their reversions and how my mom is now and how my dad was before he passed away. I wanted to post something yesterday (and it would've been appropriate since it was St. Monica's feast day) but I've been crazy busy. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this little gem. For those of you who have family members who are currently away from the Church, don't fret. It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience (again, just look at St. Monica and St. Augustine of Hippo as an example) but remember that miracles do happen. I got my dad shortly before he died (after being away from the Church for 40+ years; all credit to God, I did nothing). Nothing is impossible with God. :D

I hope y'all are having a great start of week. If you need prayers, please let me know. And now, back to Middle Earth I go. :D

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

P.S. If you get the link to this blog post via twitter it's because I have twitterfeed and it automatically posts the link as soon as I have a new blog post published. I am still away until Saturday. :D

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Working with My Phlegmatic-Sanguine Personality

I know I wrote about this two years ago but I wanted to revisit it since I've noticed a couple of things in the last couple of days that I hadn't noticed before. I thought about my phlegmatic-sanguine personality and how it was playing a big role in my post-grad plans... and it was a much needed reflection.

For those who are new or don’t remember what I wrote (or don’t want to read the previous blog post), as a phlegmatic-sanguine I have the following traits: “tendency for introversion,… peace-loving, conservative, well-balanced, easy-going, with a dry wit and a talent for bringing people together.” I am also outgoing but only with my close friends… and I know many of you who know me personally can vouch for the fact that this is indeed true; I’m terribly shy and quiet when I first meet someone but once I am completely comfortable with them, I’m a massive goofball. On the flip side,  I can also “be deeply wounded by sarcasm, harsh criticism, and anger when it is directed at [me].” I could go on and on but you get it. If you’ve known me for years and agree with the description, raise your hands. Oh, wow… everyone. Okay. lol.

Here is what has been replaying in my mind the last couple of days… especially since I realized that it was very much true: “A danger for the phlegmatic-sanguine is to be satisfied with achieving less than what he is capable of -- whether because he tends not to plan for the future or because the more challenging goals seem to be too much trouble.” Furthermore, it says that “because [I] place a high priority on harmonious relationships and cooperation, [I] will be tempted to conform to the expectations and goal of those around [me]. Thus, [my] goals may be lower than they ought to be…” Ding, ding, ding, ding!

You know, I never thought I actually had a problem with this until I realized that that was exactly what I was (and am) going through. I am settling for less than I am capable… and this fact was confirmed when I asked. I think I’ve always done this but I’ve always used excuses for my decisions. Now that I don’t have an excuse (well, I do but I don’t want use it anymore), maybe it’s time to try to push myself to do something that I’m scared of. Though I was encouraged to, I didn’t go for Oxford a few years ago. Though I was encouraged to do a number of things, I didn't do them... and it may be because of the fear of failure which is, unfortunately, a common trait amongst up phlegmatic-sanguines.

I have found jobs that would be okay for me (I wouldn't love them but they would bring in a steady income) but I didn't even apply for them because of my anxiety. It's been so ridiculously out of control that I've been playing it safe. I've also found some great jobs I could do at home (freelance writing) but have yet to apply for them because I have so much going on and I know that adding more things will only overwhelm me. However, for the first time since I've graduated, I've given myself a specific deadline to get all my side work (which I am, sadly, not getting paid for) done. This includes getting my novel done (how many times have I said this?) as well as some guest posts for a couple of side projects (which I will soon be able to talk about). Before I finish everything, I will start applying for these freelance writing gigs and, hopefully, I will be able to get my writing career started. I need goals. I need plans. I need to stop being so afraid of failure. (Oh, and for the record, I've currently ruled out teaching because I wouldn't be able to do it with my anxiety; I'm going to work on this while I work on my Masters. My heart isn't currently in it.)

I have a list of grad schools I'll be applying to next year. I was going to do it this year but, really, I have so many financial responsibilities on my plate at this time that I can't afford to take more time off from work. I have narrowed my search to about five colleges -- four Catholic (and I mean orthodox Catholic, not CINO) and one public (which is also out of the country.) I'll be apply for a Master's in Theology / Biblical Studies at the Catholic schools and I'll be applying for a Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts at the public university. I don't want to sit around and wonder "what if" due to the fact that I was scared to apply for a Creative Writing degree.

As for how I am combating any spiritual laziness and/or attacks (and I feel like I've been enduring a couple of these lately), I'm also taking the advice (from the book) about what to do to stay on track. I pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (it's part of the brown scapular enrollment), the Rosary (which I do daily; fun story about this on Monday), and keeping a sort of prayer journal to keep myself in check. It's so easy to say "I'm so exhausted... I'll just pray later." I've had a couple of those days in the past two weeks but I've still gone ahead and prayed because it could become a bad habit later on.

For the tl;dr crowd: basically, I am working with my temperament's strengths and weaknesses in order to do both what God wants me (which, to be honest, I am still not sure of) and to not get stuck doing less than I am capable of.

And for those of you who would love to help me out, feel free to bug the crumbs out of me if I'm close to these deadlines and have not finished anything:

- August 30: Book reviews for The Good Bad Boy by Fr. Gerald Brennan, If the Swords in England by Barbara Willard, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien. The first two books are done (read) and I am currently tackling The Hobbit. I hope to have it and The Fellowship of the Ring read by mid next week with the reviews submitted by next weekend.

- September 12: Side project posts completed.

- September 29 (Archangels feast day): Novel completed (includes edits and any other excuses I may have). I may need at least two or three more beta readers for this.

I hope to have some freelance writing gigs lined up around October 15 (St. Teresa of Avila's feast day; appropriate, no?) at the latest. I hope to have that started in a couple of weeks but it may take me a while. We'll see. God will provide some employment... I know He will. I'm also asking Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence as well. I am covering all my bases here. ;)

Anyway, this has gone on too long now. Oops. Sorry -- I like to write. lol.

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend (at least what's left of it.) :D

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quick Update: So Long, Twitter... For Now

Just letting y'all know that I am taking a break from twitter... and most social networks... until the end of the month. I'll explain soon (I have a busy schedule for the next couple of days) but let's just say that I have been feeling really stressed out and need this break. I realized that, after a weekend trial break, extending the break until the end of the month would do me a world of good.

I'll keep blogging but that's as connected as I'll be with y'all (well, unless y'all are friends on my personal FB account). I really, really, really need this break. My sanity and nerves need it. I broke down crying earlier today... that's how badly I need this break.

Anyway, I'll keep praying for y'all during my little break. :D

God bless,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and My Anxiety

As most of you know, today is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today we commemorate the day that Our Blessed Mother's body was taken up to heaven by her son. If you didn't know, today is a Holy Day of Obligation (a.k.a. one of the non-Sunday days you are required to attend Mass)... but, unfortunately, I will have to miss Mass because of my anxiety. :(

I've had a lousy week of anxiety following a week or so of absolutely no anxiety whatsoever. I have a lot going on in my life (which can contribute to the stress) but I've been even more stressed in the past and have not had this reaction. It's bad. It's "waking up at 4:15 a.m. with a horribly anxious feeling all over and not being able to fall asleep again until nearly 6 a.m." bad. It's "confined to staying home all day" bad. It's "how the heck am I going to get a job with this darn illness?" bad.

This morning, when I woke up at 4:15 a.m. with horrible anxiety, I had a hard time falling back asleep. I couldn't even drive my mom to work in the morning -- and for me not to do that means I'm in pretty bad shape. She took a taxi to work and I stayed home and tried to sleep. I watched my favorite guilty pleasure TV show (which luckily airs at 5 to 6 a.m.) but it didn't help. Finally, I just thought about what day it was and how, wearing the Brown Scapular, I knew I had her protection. I started to visualize (a very important skill I learned in cognitive-behavioral therapy) Our Blessed Mother wrapping her mantle around me and holding me while I just cried and let it all out. Soon after, I fell asleep. While I still woke up feeling anxious (though it's less than this morning) and have continued feeling annoyingly anxious throughout the day, I know she's still holding me together.

While I was praying the morning part of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I have been doing the post-Vatican II version but will be switching over to the pre-Vatican II version soon), I had two thoughts pop up into my mind. First, that maybe this is all a blessing in disguise. There has to be a reason why I'm going through what I'm going through. I may not know what it is but I am sure God has bigger plans for me and this anxiety is just the cross I have to carry for as long as I need to. I remembered how, during my reversion six years ago (happened during the summer, too), I had bad (worse -- 3 times in a week in the Emergency Room bad) anxiety and how I decided to dedicate my life to my newly rediscovered Faith. Maybe I just need to go through this in order to help figure out what my new stage of life is. Like I've said, I have no idea what God has in store for me but I'll do what He wants me to. I feel a little embarrassed to admit this but, in the past, I've told God that if having anxiety is what it takes for me to get back on track with my Faith, that I would happily endure it. Maybe that's what's happening. Only God knows.

The second thought I had was actually two separate things that I am putting together. First, maybe I should spend a little more time in conversation with my adopted 'big brother' Bl. Pier Giorgio. I don't know why but I have a feeling that I should be asking him for help (through his intercession). Between his intercession as well as Our Blessed Mother's (and my own conversations with God), I can make sense of what my next step should be. Then I thought "Wow, I really, really want to read Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila"... but then I remembered that I still have two Tolkien books I need to read for review (and I'm way overdue for those) so I can't just yet. New motivation though. ;) Angelica was kind enough to send the book to me for my birthday last year but I still haven't had a chance to read it. Maybe it's time that I do it, before I move onto other books.

On this day, I will remember that I have my Heavenly Mother looking out for me. Though I cannot make it to Mass to celebrate the day on which she was reunited with her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, I know she and God know that I want to be there. It took this day to remind myself that what I am currently suffering here on earth is only temporary and that, if I try to live a better life (hey, I'm human; I slip up more than I'd like), maybe one day I will join them in Heaven and all the suffering I went through on earth will seem like a distant memory.

Anyway, sorry... long rambling post. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I think better when I write it all out... and I don't mind if you guys get a glimpse into this part of my life. :) I'm going to go drink some more tea and try to distract myself from this darn anxiety. :)

I hope y'all are having a great day. If there's anything I can pray for for you, please let me know. :)

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

Monday, August 13, 2012

A True Miracle

This will be short as I am stalking the mailman (one of my friends with whom I went to school / graduated with received her diploma today so I am waiting for mine too) but I wanted to share this because it truly IS a miracle.

Does anyone remember me mentioning my cousin's grandson (who is now 9 years old), whom doctors keep giving grim prognosis to? If not, click the link. Basically, he was born blind, mute, and has a slew of other medical complications. Every time he gets sick, we think that that will be it for him, but he's a strong little man who keeps going on. Well, we found out lately that, through a miracle, he can now see. He can't communicate properly because of this disabilities but we now know that he can see! He recognizes people (including his little sister) and we know he understands what we say to him though we can't always understand what he's trying to let us know.

I know some of you have asked me (throughout the two years since that first blog post about him) and I wanted to let y'all know that he's doing much better despite what the doctors have said. If this isn't proof that prayer works, I don't know is. :D

Anyway, I'm off to stalk the mailman while watching Pride and Prejudice with one of my besties. ;D

I hope you all had a great weekend :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Friday, August 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Second Edition

--- 1 ---
The lack of blog posts have been a result of dizzy spells / crazy anxiety that returned after a week of no anxiety whatsoever. It's a conspiracy. I've spent less time online as a result but it's been good for me (less time online). Either way, St. Ulric and St. Dymphna are getting bombarded with prayers soon.

--- 2 ---
Another reason for the lack of blog posts is because I have been live tweeting during the Olympics (more specifically, during the U.S. Women's National Team matches) and I get tired of typing for two straight hours. It's been fun though, as you've probably read on twitter.
--- 3 ---

Speaking of the USWNT, a massive "Congrats" to them for winning yesterday. I sweated bullets, prayed for them, and cried when they won. What can I say? It's the sport I'm most passionate about and I am a HUGE fan of the USWNT. If you didn't watch the game (or don't think there's anything special about the sport), watch a replay of the match against Japan and then tell me what you really think.

--- 4 ---
It's been so disgustingly hot in L.A. lately. We've finally cracked the triple digits... and seem to be stuck in them for at least two more days. I haven't been out much (just driving to and from grocery stores and mom's work) but I'm already about 4 shades darker than I was in May. Seriously. I'm pretty light (the picture in the previous blog post shows you how light I am) so the fact that I'm super tan and haven't been out much tells you how strong the sun's been. Ick. On the bright side, more freckles. :D
--- 5 ---
I'm very sad that I won't be doing any back-to-school shopping. This is the first summer since my reversion that I haven't been in school. I don't like it. I am bored. I miss school... and I can't wait until I go to Grad School! Academic nerd, party of one.
--- 6 ---
I found a job that I would love to do and I am keeping my fingers crossed. All I will say about it is that it involves the Church (though it's not teaching) and it would be something that I've had some experience with in the past. Prayers would be greatly appreciated as I hope to submit my application on Monday. :D
--- 7 ---
I am going to read The Hobbit for the first time for a book review. I've had false start (I haven't finished it) but I am determined to get through it this weekend -- from start to finish. Also, looking forward to the movie at the end of the year.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dear Seventeen Year-Old Emmy...

Dear Seventeen Year-Old Emmy,

This is your future self writing from ten years in the future. Yes, seriously. Don't roll your eyes at me, young lady. I wanted to tell you what will happen to you in the next couple of years, to give you a heads up... and you will not believe me, but that's okay. Just sit down and get comfortable.

At 17, you will think that you know everything. Boy, are you wrong! First, that boyfriend of yours will cause you a lot of stress for the next two years. That gut feeling you're having? Yeah, it's telling you something. You will soon find out why he's bad news. Second, you won't go to any of the colleges you applied to so don't waste the money on the applications. You will not go to Sarah Lawrence or Oxford. You won't even leave California. Your best friend will still be your good friend in ten years. You know how dad was diagnosed with cancer last month? Spend more time with him. You will be glad you did in a couple of years.

Speaking of dad: Don't feel bad about taking time off for yourself and for dad. You're doing the right thing. He will be declared cancer-free for four years and then it will come back. You will sacrifice a lot for him but you will be glad in the end. He will not make it long after one of your birthdays in a couple of years but will not forget him.

School: College will always be there when you're ready to go back so don't worry about the 3 or 4 breaks you take between freshman year and the day you graduate. Dad is more important. You will change your major less than a dozen times before you settle on Religious Studies. Yes, seriously. You will eventually earn a Bachelor's degree in the subject. You will blindly pick a college you will come to dislike but you will also be grateful because it will make you realize how strong your faith is. And, yes, you will have faith.

Guys: When you're 18 you will meet a young man who is a nice enough guy but he will make you realize that you won't date anyone who doesn't have the same beliefs as you do. In a couple of years you will fall in love for the first time. You will get serious about him but it will not work out. Still, it will be a great, productive relationship that will help you realize exactly what you want. This will be the last relationship you will have (by choice) for a long time. In fact, still single and enjoying it as of this date (August 5th, 2012).

Friends: You will have two male classmates your freshman year of college who, along with your concert "buddies," will make you learn a lot about yourself as a person. They may be jerks but you'll thank them later. Also, look out for stalkers wearing capes to class. Dead serious. In a couple of years you will meet your "through thick and thin" best friend... and you will never look back.

Career: The career choice you think you want will come a-knockin'... and you will turn it down. In a couple of years you will realize that what you really want is to be a writer. You will write (and rewrite... and rewrite... and rewrite) a novel that I still haven't finished yet. Soon though... I hope. You will graduate without a job lined up but you will have faith that God will send you something. You will be given the nickname of Emmy and you will adopt it as well as Cecilia as your pen name.

Faith: Shortly after the 2006 World Cup (spoiler alert: Italy wins) you will get very, very sick. You will be told that you won't make it past a certain age, but you will, so don't worry about it. During one of the trips of the emergency room you will make a promise to St. Jude. You know how you haven't gone to church since middle school? That will all change. Your life will never be the same... nor will you want it to be. You will struggle through your reversion back to Catholicism but it'll be worth it. You will also contemplate becoming a nun (at the same time that the young man you fall in love with is in your life). You will start a blog on Christmas chronicling your journey back to the Faith. As of this letter, you will still be learning.

Misc: You will finally get your driver's license in a couple of years. Yes, your anxiety will finally allow you to get a license. Anxiety will get at its worst in a couple of years but it'll get better. Also, invest in these thing called "Facebook" and "Twitter"... and cash in before 2010.

Though, at 17, you may not believe the dramatic changes I've just described... they will happen. While you consider yourself a Catholic now, you will come to learn what it means to be truly Catholic for a couple more years. School and guys will take a surprising backseat to everything else. Nothing you think is important now (at 17) will be important as of the date of this letter. At my current age (it's 2012, you're a smart girl... do the math ;D), the most important things will be God, your faith, your mother and older brother (seriously, Pedro is going to be the best older brother ever), and your friends (as well as strangers who need your help). Everything else will be second. You will be happy with who you are... in every single way. You will grow for the better and you will look back with joy.

Oh yeah, and I still look 17 so good luck with all the "so, when are you graduating high school?" questions you will get in the next couple of years. Begin charging 10 cents per question at 19 and you'll be able to afford a house by the time you graduate college. lol. ;)

Anyway, just wanted to let you know what will happen. Don't go changing a single thing. There will be times when you think things won't get better... but they will. To quote Dory (you'll get this reference on your 18th birthday and your first group date), "Just keep swimming."


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mama Mary Highs and Earthly Mama Lows

So, I haven't written in a couple of days because of everything that's been going on. It's so much to get into but I will try to keep it as "in a nutshell" as I possibly can. As the title says, I've experienced Mama Mary highs and earthly mama lows.

If you're following me on twitter then you've seen that I have been crazy stressed. After having seven of the most unnecessary drama-filled days, I've come to appreciate everything even more. First, let's start with the bad. I just want to get that out of the way so I can focus on the good.

I feel like I'm going through Dad: the Sequel with mom. Thankfully it's not cancer but we've had a bit of a health scare in the last couple of days. Yesterday we received a call from her doctor that we needed to go to the hospital for some meds because my mom had high cholesterol and apparently her arteries were getting clogged. Well, I learned what the meds were, on my own, before we actually knew what they were for. They just told my mom that is was absolutely URGENT (yes, in caps to emphasize their exaggeration) to immediately go the hospital. And I think something about her heart being in trouble was mentioned but the details are now a little fuzzy since I went into panic mode when I saw my mother's face fall as she repeated the news she got. I quickly looked up her prescription online before we left (thank you, Kaiser, for the availability of patient records and prescriptions online) and saw it was for cholesterol and the opening of arteries due to cholesterol.

We went, got the meds, and came back home. She took the meds (and, I have to say, I have no idea why the meds were given; her cholesterol has been higher in the past) and she woke up sick. Then it got worse. It got so bad that she had to call me from work to contact her doctor. If you know my mother (or have seen my tweets about her) then you know it has to be serious for her to actually want to go to the hospital or contact the doctor. Like, "I'm dying" bad. Panic mode, round two. Dizziness, headache, achy muscles, pain in her hips, etc. Called the doctor, couldn't get a hold of her. And, actually, two calls later and we're still waiting. Needless to say, mom won't be taking the meds anymore (sorry, doc)... especially after her co-workers (she works at a convalescent hospital) checked her blood work results and told her that meds were completely unnecessary and a little too high for her. So, basically, all of this stress and chaos could've been avoided. Great. Thanks, y'all. ;)

After what I went through with my dad (seven years of cancer), I've become a bit of a worrywart when it comes to illnesses... especially when it comes to my mother. She's my only parent left (and my only family member who won't be moving away from the West Coast in the next couple of weeks) so... you know... I worry. Also, after seeing how badly the meds messed my dad up, I am wary of them in general. I try to take a holistic approach when sick. Also, even though I jokingly (yet not so jokingly) call mama a modern day Mrs. Bennet, I still love her and seeing her suffer makes me miserable. Of course, this is all drama but something wonderful has also happened.

On Monday, mama and I went to our confessor (yes, we have the same one) and we asked him to enroll us in the Brown Scapular. I've worn one before but was never enrolled and I'd been wanting to do it for a couple of years now. I could never find a priest to do it (or, really, had the guts to ask in the beginning of my reversion) but I finally bit the bullet and did it. And I'd like to thank all the attacks (spiritual and otherwise) I went through this past weekend because it really gave me the push to actually do it. It was done in Spanish (so my mother could understand) and it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. I've been doing the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary morning (first time when I wake up) and evening (I'll be doing it as soon as I finish this post)... and I feel so wonderfully serene despite everything that is going on. Knowing that I have my Heavenly Mother protecting me and looking out for me (and for my earthly mama) is wonderful. If you haven't done it yourself, look into it because I highly recommend it.

Anyway, this post is getting awfully long and I have books to read. Depressingly it's not for school (hi, academic nerd here) but they are for review so, you know, gotta try to finish 'em. :)

I hope you have all had a great week thus far... or, at least, better than mine. :D If you have any prayer requests, please let me know. I would be more than happy to offer up any unpleasantness or pray the Rosary for you. :)

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