Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year This Nerd Became Brave


As I was looking back at this past year, I noticed that I did a lot of things (I packed more in a single year than I had in the past 6 years combined) because I made an unofficial resolution to be brave. If you know me, you know that the words "brave" and "Emmy" were rarely used in a single sentence... until this year. There is a lot I can cover but here at the major highlights:

1) I had two novels published in the span of 7 months.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you guys about this since the print versions (as well as the novel sequel in eBook) version were just released a week ago but my biggest professional highlight was finally getting my novels published. I had worked on Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide since 2008 (the original draft is nowhere near what it ended up being; one day I'll reveal how the story was original supposed to end) and I wrote the entire first draft of Will and Lina: London Calling last November. This year I edited them (with help from Kiera), worked on the covers, and I made my dreams come true by publishing years worth of hard work. The fact that I had the guts to say "Okay, I want to do this so I'm going to do it" and of not letting my nervousness get the best of me was a huge deal. I've always loved writing (obviously; I've been blogging for 7 years now!) but it wasn't until this year that I really worked hard at letting my "babies" out into the world. Even though I did stress myself out a little with deadlines and formatting issues, finally seeing my novels published was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done... and it's something that I know I will continue to do in the future.

2) I learned that sometimes the best thing is to do is let go so you can move forward.
Some of my biggest triumphs of the year in the "bravery" category had me walking away from things that I did not want to let go of. I walked away from a career path that I was loving but had to let go of because the school environment was making me physically ill. I let go of the fear of financial instability by admitting that I was at my happiest pursuing Theology and Religious Studies degrees and I would much rather do that than Speech-Language Pathology (though, mark my words, I will finish that someday.) I know jobs for Theology M.A.s are hard to come by but I'm not worried. This is what I want to do with my life -- what I feel called to do now that I've stopped trying to control the outcome. I let go of my fear of illness, which I developed when my father was first diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Yes, my platelets and iron are still on the low side and, no, I don't know when/if I'll get better... but I'm not worried about it. I know God will take care of me and, if this is just a cross I have to carry, then I will do it to the best of my abilities. I've found myself so much happier just letting go, moving forward, and not looking back. Oh, and please don't start singing that song from Frozen; I can't stand it.

3) My anxiety became manageable for the first time since I was first diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorder at 15.
I owe a big "thank you" to my therapist (whom I saw from March through the first week of August) because she helped me immensely. After that horrible incident in February, I was in full-on PTSD mode. In cognitive-behavioral therapy I not only learned that I had PTSD, I also learned how to deal with it. Since then I've still had some anxiety come and go (which is normal; that won't disappear altogether overnight), but it's no longer an issue when it comes to making plans. I've gone out so much this year (mainly to Disneyland with friends; it's kind of our thing) and my social life is so much better than it has been in years because I finally said "well, flip that table, anxiety. You're not the boss of me!" I can take public transportation (by myself... a huge feat I hadn't done since 2005.) I can drive long distances. I can do so many things because I refuse to let anxiety run my life... and it's been wonderful.

4) My biggest act of bravery was being honest with myself across the board.
It took a lot for me to sit down and, basically, be honest with myself. There were so many things that I had been in denial of for a number of reasons. It took a lot of courage for me to admit that school was causing me more harm than good because I had invested so much into it. To leave the SLP program (as well as stick up for myself against unfair professors) without even finishing the semester was uncharacteristic of me. I felt like a failure for a while... but then I realized that I wasn't. I tried and it didn't work out because it wasn't meant to be. I gave it my all and I pushed myself as much as I could and I'm proud of myself for that. To be able to say "okay, I tried this and it didn't work" and "okay, I need to make these changes to better my life" and then actually implement the changes was what made my year incredibly satisfying.

I look back at 2014 and I go "man, I went through a lot" because I did. I went through health issues, finance instability, career/academic disappointments, and a number of other things that were major turning points in my life. I see all the tears, pain, heartbreak, and disappointment that I felt... but none of it compares to the warmth, love, laughter, happiness, and achievement that I've also felt. Yes, the year stunk like a poopy diaper but I'm genuinely happy. I'm happier than I've been in a long time and I feel much freer than I have since before my dad died 5 years ago. I'm incredibly excited at all the brand new opportunities that I have in life all because I decided to be brave. I didn't run away and hide; I stood up and said "I'm sorry but I'm not going to let you define me." To quote the gif (from the web series Emma Approved): Holy Oprah, what just happened?! Who is this girl and how can I get her to stay? ;)

Anyway, I won't make traditional New Years resolutions because I don't want to limit my growth as a person. There is still a lot left to do but it'll all happen in God's time. In the meantime I'll just try to keep building on the courage I've gained this year and I hope that it will also translate in my faith which, sadly, took a back seat to school and work for the majority of the year.

Thank you all for sharing this year with me. You've helped enrich my year way more than y'all will know. I hope y'all stick around for the (undoubtedly) amazing adventures that 2015 has in store for all of us. Verso l'alto! :D

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And the Patron for 2015 is...

Thank you all for your votes. I had a couple of "write-in" votes for St. Joseph and St. Drogo as well as some tweet votes since some of you couldn't access the poll widget. After tallying them all up, St. Brigid of Ireland was still the winner.

This is the total count:
1) St. Brigid -12
2) Our Lady of Lourdes - 9
2) St. Francis de Sales - 9
3) St. Nicholas of Myra - 8
3) St. Dominic de Guzman - 8
3) St. Catherine of Alexandria - 8
4) St. Elizabeth of Hungary - 6
4) St. Albert Magnus (the Great) - 6
5) St. Bibiana - 5
5) St. Thomas Aquinas - 5
6) St. Joseph - 2
6) St. Drogo - 2


Again, thank you for helping me choose a patron for 2015. As a patroness for scholars, I'm excited to learn more about St. Brigid as I (hopefully) begin grad school this coming fall. (P.S. No, I haven't heard back from either Franciscan or Christendom but I'm still praying and hoping that one of them accepts me into their Theology M.A. program.)

I will have my annual "The Year This Nerd..." blog post up tomorrow. I'm kind of excited because... well, you'll see. ;)

Now, if you'll excuse me... I have my annual clean-a-thon to get back to before a friend gets here for some catching up. :D

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

Help Me Choose a Patron for 2015!

Yes, it's that time again... and I'm late posting this! Sorry. Y'all know I've been busy so that's my excuse. :D

I like to do this every year because I always learn something new... or the saint ends up being incredibly relevant to my year. This year's patron, St. Raphael the Archangel, was... wow. I ended up serving as the person many of my friends went to when they were going through relationship issues and/or advice in general. In fact, I think I spent most of the year being some of my guy friends' "wing woman" / serving for advice on engagements. I had no clue I was going to do so much of that when St. Raphael was chosen by y'all. Good job, y'all! lol.

This year's list of potential patrons were chosen based on three things: 1) that they haven't been patrons of this blog before, 2) their patronages were relevant to what I can foresee in my future next year, and 3) they weren't saints I was too familiar with so that I could learn about whoever is chosen throughout the year. I've listed their patronages below in case you're not familiar with them. You can vote for as many as you'd like, too.

Our Lady of Lourdes: illness. Pretty self-explanatory.
St. Albert Magnus (the Great): students; Theology students in particular.
St. Bibiana: Los Angeles and single laywomen.
St. Brigid of Ireland: scholars. This Hibernophile always lists an Irish saint. lol.
St. Catherine of Alexandria: academic, students, teachers, theologians, and unmarried women. Fun fact: Catalina "Lina" Zamora in the novels is named after her.
St. Dominic de Guzman: Dominicans and falsely accused people. I'm also discerning becoming a lay Dominican.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary: bakers, falsely accused people, and tertiaries (third order/lay people).
St. Francis de Sales: authors and teachers.
St. Nicholas of Myra: students, teachers, and unmarried women.
St. Thomas Aquinas: academics, students, and theologians.

Alright, y'all have until December 30th at 11:59 a.m. PST to vote. Yes, noon on the 30th so I can post the winner that day and still have the 31st for my annual "The Year This Nerd..." post. That's less than 4 days from now. Think y'all can vote and/or get others to vote? Please? Thank you! The poll is on the right side, under my novel listings. ----->

That's it for now. I have things to do (when do I not? lol) and only a few daylight hours left. Wish me luck. ;)

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Happy Blog Anniversary!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Remember what we're celebrating today -- the hope, the love, and the joy that we've all been blessed with through the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's not about what material wealth you might've acquired today; it's about what the birth of the Son of God means for us all. I hope y'all take a moment out of your day (outside of Mass) and give thanks for the wonderful gift we were given on this day. It wouldn't hurt to do the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary either. I know it's not Monday or Saturday but maybe we can have the exception seeing how it's Christmas. ;)

Also, thanks for those who've been with me since the beginning! Today mark's the 7th anniversary of this blog. I started it on Christmas night in 2007. Crazy to think that I would still be writing, 7 years later. I may not write as much as I did then (I certainly don't have the free time I had as a 22 year-old), but I still enjoy sharing my journey with y'all. (P.S. I was forgetting about the anniversary because I focus on Jesus today. lol.) I don't know what the next year holds but you can be sure that I will still be documenting it as best as I'm able (and as much as I'm comfortable sharing. ;D)

Alright, I'm going to go have myself a Love Comes Softly movie marathon before I shut off all devices for the day/night. :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!




Monday, December 22, 2014

Novel Sequel (London Calling) is Now Available!

This is going to be a quick post because I have a lot of things to do in a short amount of time. Long story short: mom has shingles and I had to take her to urgent care -- and then drive her back when her supervisor was being difficult about her return to work -- so my afternoon/evening has been spent doing that and I still have other things to take care of. Anyway...

The novel sequel is now out! WHOOO! So excited! Yes, Will and Lina: London Calling is available in both print AND Kindle editions as of today. I would've posted this earlier except... well... you know. Anyway, here are the links to a couple of places where you can find them.

Print
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5165372 (it'll go live tomorrow)
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Will-Lina-Calling-Melissa-Cecilia/dp/1505487404/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1 (they were temporarily out of stock but they have copies once more)

eBook
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Will-Lina-Calling-Melissa-Cecilia-ebook/dp/B00RC56PAK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419290102&sr=1-1

If you're getting the Kindle version, please note that, yes, the table of contents looks wonky because they (CreateSpace) forgot to take it out when they sent the file to Kindle. There shouldn't be any table of contents on Kindle editions (for obvious reasons). I've been told by those who have their copies that that is the only issue (which I will be taking care of tonight). Everything else is formatted correctly so don't worry about it. Just skip it and go onto the story. ;) If something looks off, let me know and I'll fix it asap; that's the beauty of Kindle, I can fix it and you'll get the corrected version automatically updated to your Kindle app/device.

And that's it for now. I'll hopefully blog again tomorrow. We'll see. ;)

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Novel Sequel: Good News and Bad News...

I'll start with the bad news first because it's good to get it out of the way.

Bad news: the novel sequel is NOT available today because of formatting issues. Siiiiiigh. I'm bummed because I was so looking forward to today but, unfortunately, these things happen. I tried my best to have everything in order on time but some of the issues were out of my control. I literally did not have anything to do with one of the issues (which involved a novel cover); it was all on the people who are helping me get the books published. I've been told that I'm not the first author to have encountered a publication date delay so that makes me feel slightly better.

Good news: New release date is only delayed until Monday, December 22nd. Hooray! Everything should be fixed and ready for a Monday release date. I am going to go bananas on their butts if any more formatting issues come up. I'm actually going to work all weekend (save for a couple of hours on Sunday; gotta keep some of the time reserved for the Lord) to make sure these issues don't happen again. Yes, I get a semi-quick confirmation (usually 15 hours or so) when things are ready to be published so... I'll let y'all know.

And that's it for now. I'm going to go back and do some more work. A self-published author's work is never done. ;)

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Will and Lina Giveaway Winners AND News

First let me just say a big "thank you" to those of you who took time out of your busy schedules to post a little something about the first novel on various websites. I was not expecting y'all to be as kind as you were in your reviews... especially you men. Y'all were not my target audience but it seems you fellas didn't hate it, so thank you. lol. That's as "brag"-y as I get, folks. You can find reviews in various places; I'm not linking them. ;) lol.

The contest closed at midnight and we have the two winners. Y'all know the expression "the early bird gets the worm"? Well, two regular blog readers (aka those who submitted their reviews in early) ended up the winners! Congrats Stephanie Z. and Stephen C.! I've already gotten touch with y'all so now we shall just wait for Amazon to release the sequel so I can send it your way. ;) For those of you who didn't win, don't worry; I'm sure I'll hold another giveaway before you know it. ;)

I have a lot to do today so I'll keep the news short and sweet: Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide is officially available in print! Excited panda dance time. As of now, it's only available through CreateSpace AND Amazon since they are the ones printing the physical copies of it. I was told that you will be able to get copies elsewhere in the next 3-5 days. I will link those when I get them.

As for tomorrow's release of the sequel (London Calling), yes, it's still on but I don't know the time it'll be released because it varies every time. Amazon has to upload the file, send me the notification, etc. As soon as I get word, I will make another blog post and share the link. There is a chance that it won't go "live" (aka ready to purchase) until Saturday morning (even though I'm submitting it tomorrow). Hopefully I'll get word early tomorrow. We'll see... wish me luck 'cause I had some major issues with the first one being properly formatted. :)

And that's it for now. I have a million (yes, of course that's an exaggeration) little things I need to do before I can get some sleep.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Failing This Advent

You read the blog post title correctly: I have failed at preparing during this Advent season. As my penance, I will tell you how I have failed and what I plan to do to make up for it.

I actually did prepare for Advent ahead of time: I bought the Advent wreath candles weeks in advance and we've used the same Advent wreath for years so I didn't have to look for one. I had the Nativity stored next to the Advent wreath in my book room. I had a Ven. Fulton Sheen Advent booklet ready on my bookshelf. I had the links to the various Advent calendars online... and I did NONE of it until this week. I had everything ready and I failed to get started in time. Good job, Emmy.

It's not that I didn't have time. I did... and didn't. The problem is that, with the publishing deadlines coming up on Thursday (to be released on Friday), I've focused solely on that; getting what had deadlines instead of spending more time reflecting on the season. I've spent nearly a week just fixing the formatting on the first novel manuscript (yes, I've had to send it back to CreateSpace a minimum of a dozen times because something always came up wrong) and I'm now rushing through last minute edits for the sequel to meet deadlines. All of that has caused me to push back prayers and preparation. Trust me, I feel awful because this is my favorite time of year. In a way, I'm actually glad that it happened because I feel as if my prayer life has been all over the place (in a bad way) and this has forced me to really look at what I want to change in my life. So, here is my plan of attack:

Problem #1: my sleeping schedule is off in a horrible way. I go to sleep usually around 2:30 a.m. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and then take a nap until 10:30 a.m. to noon. I occasionally miss morning prayers because I'm often rushing to catch up on everything that should've been taken care of in the morning. I've tried to get up earlier (as well as go to bed earlier) but I just haven't been able to. It's hard because this is the schedule I've been used to for months. I got used to this wonky schedule when I was in the SLP program and I know it's going to take a while to get my sleeping schedule back on time.

Solution: I would like to start attending daily Mass again, especially since I won't have much to do from next week until I begin grad school (side note: no, I haven't heard from Franciscan or Christendom yet.) I used to be really good at going to daily Mass but then I got sick (low iron and low platelets make you feel exhausted at times) and then school messed up my schedule. I wanted to start attending daily Mass last week but my downstairs neighbors decided to no longer care that my mother gets up at 4:00 a.m. for work and they started making noise and slamming closet doors between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Sometimes we don't get enough sleep. I sometimes pass out and sleep through alarms from the exhaustion of not getting the sleep that I need. I know I won't get a chance to this week but next week I will try again... even if it means asking a friend to call me each morning at 7:30 a.m. to make sure I'm up.

Problem #2: my prayer life is in a pitiful state. I'm embarrassed every time my spiritual director asks me how my prayer life is because it's terrible. I used to go to the local parish and pray in front of the tabernacle on a daily (or almost daily) basis... and now? I don't even recognize myself anymore. As I said before, I don't always get my morning prayers in (though I've managed to make it through almost two weeks without missing more than one) but I do get to my nighttime prayers as well as prayer requests (I try to do this immediately after being asked.) It's not enough though. Ask me when the last time I prayed the Rosary was? Answer: I don't have a clue. It's bad, y'all... it's really, really bad. I hate to say it but I've placed so much importance on other things that "have to get done" that my prayer life has taken a back seat to everything else. Bad Emmy!

Solution: I'm scheduling my day until my busy schedule becomes more manageable. I have a Wunderlist app that usually helps but my iPod touch is on the fritz (I just sent it in to get repaired) so I'm going to set up the obnoxious alarms on my cell phone. I am going to try to set up my schedule according to the Liturgy of the Hours because I know it's do-able with my schedule, even at its craziest. This is going to be really hard for me because I've gotten so used to be "on the go" without praying much during the day (with nighttime being the exception). No one said this was going to be easy but, man, I can already anticipate me struggling with this during this week. Deadlines... ugh...

Problem #3: distractions and anxiety, my dear Watson... distractions and anxiety. I've been way too easily distracted lately. No, forget "lately" -- my attention has been taken away from prayer and God for months now. First the craziness of school (when I didn't even have time to eat or sleep at times) and then the craziness of novel deadlines and distractions in the form of all things virtual. I'm actually glad that my iPod touch decided to malfunction because I was constantly checking it; checking Twitter, FB, Instagram, emails, Google Talk, etc. I'm way too connected.

Solution: Disconnect! I uninstalled games on iPod and laptop. From today until (at least) Christmas, I'm again limiting my time on social networks. Luckily, this week's deadline will prevent me from having much interaction on social networks anyway. I'm logging myself off of Google Talk when I'm logged into gmail (except for when I do have a few minutes to chat). With my iPod being in the repair shop, I won't have notifications (either on the screen or the sound of them) to distract me. Once I get my iPod back, I'll rearrange apps, delete some, disable notifications, etc. I'm done. I really I am; I'm already stressed about deadlines and being hyper-connected does not help at all. I'm also going to ask "Santa" for the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the physical book form because I'm using my iPod to pray it and sometimes notifications pop up and distract me in the middle of prayer. No mas!

If someone (whom I know well) doesn't mind being my accountability buddy, I could use one or two to make sure I stay on track. Seriously, y'all... check in on me and get on my case if you see me slipping. Alright, that's enough of me getting on my case about failing this Advent. lol. I will try to stay on course for the rest of this season (yes, even going back to reading the past readings and Advent calendar goodies I've missed).

My eyes are tired of staring at the screen so I'm going to take a break by doing something else offline for a little while. I do have a deadline but I think I'm going to end up doing the whole Pomodoro technique because I need more breaks to refresh my eyes and mind than I actually take. Yeah, I'm going to do that now. :D

I hope y'all are having a better Advent season than I am. lol. If you have any prayer requests, please load me up!

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Will and Lina Series Info and Giveaway!

I'm currently dealing with yet another formatting issue with the first novel (seriously, y'all? I've changed it twice already!) but I thought I'd take a break from that to show y'all the print covers (and Kindle covers? I am not sure how Amazon will update the covers for the Kindle version) of both the first novel (Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide) and the sequel (Will and Lina: London Calling).

Final cover for WTWC:


Final cover for London Calling.

Can y'all say "stinkin' excited"?! Okay, now for the info y'all are probably going to be asking for:

Where you can purchase a copy:
Paperback: You can get a copy almost anywhere. I've set it up so you can get the book from physical bookstores or Amazon or CreateSpace. I am an independent self-published author so if you want to cut the "middle man" and get the book straight from the publisher, it'll be through CreateSpace. However, y'all can choose your preferred store (physical or virtual) to get them through.
eBook: It'll be exclusively available through Amazon just as WTWC is at the moment. And, no, you don't have to own an actual Kindle to get a copy. I have a Kindle app on my iPod touch and on my laptop so I can read any Kindle books without an actual Kindle. 

How much will the novels cost:
Paperback: The price is going to be set for $9.95 USD for each of the paperback versions but, knowing Amazon, they will discount 20-30% of it so you'll pay less. That's almost the lowest price they would allow me to set it at, to be honest. I wanted a $7.99 listing price but making books is expensive. Certain venues will earn me less royalties but I don't care about that; I'm just excited that people will read the novels.
eBook: It'll be set at $3.99 for both, just as WTWC is at the moment. I will occasionally hold sales throughout the year in which it'll be 99 cents (Amazon limits the number of times I can do this) as well.

Publishing dates:
Paperbook: Because there have been formatting issues (I've been working on these for three days now!), I don't have a specific publishing date for these. However, I am told that as soon as the proofs get approved (usually less than 24 hours), they should be available within 48 hours. I am aiming to have everything done by Monday so they can be available mid to late next week. I'm aiming for  December 19th release date across the board so let's just go with that unless I get news that it'll be available either earlier or later.
eBook: As y'all know, WTWC has been available on Kindle since May 1st of this year so you can get your copy now. Also, Amazon was nice enough to allow me to update the cover (for now, at least) and how the Kindle version looks like so if you've already purchased a copy, go check it out; updates should've been automatic. London Calling will be available on December 19th through Kindle.

Links:
I will be posting the links to where you can purchase the novels next Friday. I do know the ISBNs for both books but it's no use in giving them out now because they're not available for purchase yet. ;)

Giveaway:
I will be giving away TWO novel sequel copies because I'm technically not allowed to give my novels away (it's in my contract with Amazon) but I can certainly gift them to the winners by paying for them out of my own pocket so... it's not really a giveaway if I only gift two, right? Wink. ;) As I stated in the previous blog post, to enter you must have somehow reviewed or "starred" the first novel. It could be on Amazon, Goodreads, your own blog, etc. I want an honest review because that's how I grow as a writer. As soon as you have something published, you can DM, tweet, or send me a message via the blog's FB page and you'll be automatically entered. The giveaway is on the 18th. Winners will get to choose whether they want their copy to be on Kindle or print. I already have a couple of entries from early birds (aka regular readers) so if you want a chance to win a copy of the sequel, please send me the link to your review/star-rating by midnight PST on the 18th. I might hold more giveaways in the future but, right now, I'm pretty broke so I can only do two. May the odds be ever in your favor! ;)

And that's it, I think. If you have any more questions, let me know. Leave me a comment in the blog, tweet me, FB message me, etc. :D

I hope y'all have a wonderful feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a fantastic weekend. :D

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grown Up Millennials and Their Parents

There's one topic I've seen come up a lot this week: how grown up Millennials are going to deal with their aging parents. Many of us are already in our mid-late 20s into early 30s and we're starting to either see parents in a new light or (if you have an older parent) you're starting to see them slowing down due to age. I fall into the latter category.

My parents were not "young" when I was born. I got to see my dad reach his 66th birthday before passing away after a 7 year battle with cancer. My mom is just starting to slow down. Her memory is not the best, which is why I go everywhere with her and why I've had to rearrange work and school schedule so that I'm able to drive her to work at 5 a.m. and pick her up when she gets off of work. She's very active but she's exhausted at the end of the day... and even goes to bed much earlier.

The topic of what I'll do when I get married has been brought up a couple of times lately with questions such as: will I take my mother with me? Will she be nearby so I can keep an eye on her? Why is it even my responsibility? Why doesn't someone else take care of her? While attempting to answer these questions myself (I do have an idea of what I would like to happen when the day that I get married arrives), there was an even bigger issue we all noticed: it's unfortunately becoming clear that many Millennials just don't want to "deal" with their aging parents.

Let's face it: we live in a world where our independence and our "me, me, me" mentality is the norm. Millennials have the sad stereotype of being lazy, selfish brats who rely too much on our parents... and (don't hate me for saying this), it's pretty spot on for a number of us. I include myself in this because I do still live at home (though this was decided at an earlier age because it's a cultural Hispanic normal I grew up with; unmarried women live with the parents until they marry) and, yes, I do contribute to the running of this household but it's nowhere near how much my mom does.

We (those who I've talked to about this issues and I; all Millennials between the ages of about 23 through 31) have all remarked how rare it is to see children wanting to take care of their parents. It's not really done. It's not "cool" and it's certainly not easy, so, of course, let's get rid of the problem. Sigh.

Just as it's weird for many Millennials to hear that I chose to take care of my parents (my dad while he had cancer, my mother as she's aging), it's weird for me that some just don't want to do it. My parents brought me up with old fashioned Hispanic values. I don't call elders by their first name; it's always "Mr.", "Mrs./Ms.", "Sir", or "Ma'am." I use the formal "usted" instead of "tu" when speaking Spanish because that's how we show respect. A coworker of my mom's made a joke about how he has to show me because I'm his elder (and I'm only 6 months older than he is.) It's just how we were raised. In the family, someone (son or daughter) takes the parents in as they're aging, whether they have a family of their own or not. Even if both parents are alive, they still live with someone. It's just how it's done (or was done; I'm not up-to-date with current Hispanic culture.) When my dad had cancer, I had no problem taking on that role. I had just turned 17 when my dad was first diagnosed with cancer and I was 24 when he passed away. With my mom, I still have no problem with the idea of helping take care of her as she ages. Like I said, this is not even an issue for me but it honestly bothers me that some people are willing to, basically, dump their parents because it doesn't fit in with their lifestyle.

If you think I'm being harsh with my assessment, I'd invite you to go visit a convalescent hospital to do volunteer work. I guarantee that you will meet patients whose family have abandoned them. My mom has worked at a convalescent hospital since before I was born so I've grown up around that environment. I've seen patients whose sons and daughters have left their parents at the hospitals and then do not return to see them until they get the call that their parents have passed away. I have had so many adopted "aunts," "uncles," and "grandparents" in my lifetime because of this.

While I know that not everyone has the means or time to personally take care of their parents themselves, it doesn't mean that they should be abandoned just like that. I'm honestly worried that that is what we're going to see with my generation: many people dropping their parents off at convalescent hospitals, senior living apartments, etc and basically forgetting about them. If you need (or will need) help taking care of your parents as they age, there's nothing wrong with that. Seeing that they get the best care they can get (with help from others who are trained to do it) is still noble; just don't abandon them because you think they're "just fine" with the help they get. Trust me, you still need to make sure they're getting the best care possible, even if it's at a nursing home; not all nurses or places are the best fit for the patients. From my experience, I know some nurses have no business being nurses. I still think of that awful nurse who made my father cry in the final weeks of his life, telling him he was there because he was an undocumented illegal who caused pity -- said this to my father who was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

If you still think you don't have a duty to your parents when you grow up, remember the fourth commandment: honor thy father and mother. I know this opens up a whole can of worms when brought up because I do know some who don't have a close relationship with their parents due to family friction that is irreparable. Some people have chosen to separate themselves from a parent (or both parents) because it's not a healthy relationship for them... but that doesn't mean we can't still, in a way, attempt to take care of our parents. You don't get along with your parents? You live too far away? Pray that God will put the right people in their path so that they can be taken care of. My mother, who didn't really know her birth mother, added her to the All Souls Day list. You don't have to like someone to wish the best for them. I know some parents are horrible to their children growing up but they can still try to forgive (which is not easy, I know) and pray for them. Want to work on reaching Heaven? Pray for your parents even if you aren't their biggest fans.

Anyway, these were my thoughts on the subject since it's come up a lot (like, a surprising amount of times) this and last week. Millennials, I dare you to defy the expectation that our generation (being so stereotypically selfish) won't give a hoot about what happens to our parents as they age. I dare you to pray for your parents, even if you don't get along with them. While my mom and I are pretty close, we don't always get along. I've prayed for her when I've been upset with her over typical mother-daughter breakdowns. Differing temperaments (she's very much an extroverted open book and I'm very much an introvert who is a lot more reserved) make it hard for us to communicate at times but, when it comes down to it, I'm always going to be there for her and make sure that she gets what is necessary as her needs change with age, no matter what. Just some thoughts for y'all since, let's be real, we're going to start seeing our parents aging soon.

Alright, I need to go do some beta reader email reading. ;)

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes Vol. 22: Holy Updates, Batman.


-- 1 --
"Hey Emmy, didn't you say you were going to post an update about your novel sequel?" Yes. "Where is it?" Here! Sort of. Okay, fine, this is just a "in a nutshell" version of the actual thing (which I haven't posted because I am waiting for fixed publication dates...): the novel sequel (Will and Lina: London Calling) is done. Beta readers have it in their hands. The fixed Kindle publication date is the 19th of this month. That isn't what I'm waiting for. I'm waiting to learn when the physical copies will be available. Yes, you read it right: the novels (both When Two Worlds Collide and London Calling) will finally be available in print form for those of you who have held out for one (you beautiful book purists, you.) I am hoping that everything will be published by the end of this month because I sort of want to move onto other ideas for other novels. I've already started a third book that is not related to the Will and Lina series. Yes, it's still fiction.

-- 2 --
And while on the topic of novels (particularly mine): I'll also be giving away copies (physical and/or Kindle; winner's choice) of the London Calling. There is a catch: to be eligible for the drawing, you must have reviewed the first novel. It could be a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, etc. It could be something as simple as "I liked this book," "Seriously, this thing was terrible," a more detailed review, or just giving it a star-rating. If you've already done this anywhere, send me the links to your reviews and I'll add you to the drawing which will be held on December 18th. More details on that when I get the actual post published.

-- 3 -- 
Health news: toothaches come and go and dentist appointments are still a no-go because it took me weeks just to be able to see my primary doctor. Before you ask why I have to involve my doctor: my platelets are still low and it's more than likely means I have ITP. They were at 121 in September and are down to 118 as of this Monday (but still up from 106 in August). That means that any type of dental work that I need that would involve me bleeding would be tricky because of the low platelets. I can't afford to bleed and have to avoid even the smallest paper cuts. I also have low white blood cells and I still have a bit of low iron so, you know, anything like removal of wisdom teeth (I still have my upper two) might have to wait a bit longer. Sigh. I do have other stuff that needs to be done (the sound you now hear is of me hyperventilating over the thought of two possible root canals) and hopefully I can get that done without much blood lost. We'll see what the dentist (currently looking for a new one since the last one got some of his spittle in my mouth; seriously, it was disgusting) says. Fingers crossed because it's been a week of on-off toothaches. P.S. before anyone in the peanut gallery chimes in, if it's not positive I don't want to hear about it. Please reserve your comments (i.e. "well, better get that look at before it gets worse" or some horror story) as they can trigger my already heightened anxiety into a panic attack.

-- 4 --
All of that aside: it looks like the grad schools I applied to have already received most, if not all, the things necessary for them to make a decision regarding my admission status. I only applied to two because of how flipping expensive applications and transcripts were so I am hoping I get into either one. While it's usually not hard for me to be patient, this has been a good lesson in patience for me. I just want to know where I'll be attending school in the Fall, you know? I just hope one accepts me as both schools have excellent Theology programs. We shall see.

-- 5 -- 
Occasionally I get asked what I'm reading so here's a basic run down (of what isn't already on my Goodreads profile): I'm reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott with my rock star editor, Kiera. I also plan on re-reading another series/author as is my annual December tradition. I just don't know if I'm going to be re-reading Anne of Green Gables (which I already read earlier this year... don't judge me), the Narnia series, or Jane Austen (along with my friend, Nancy's, His Good Opinion.) I just want easy reads to finish the year, you know? I had so much academic reading to do that I just want to dive into a fictional world for a while. That's why I finished editing my novel doing NaNoWriMo; I needed that escape. Any other suggestions? I like fiction, I like history, I don't like smut, and I don't like paranormal. Go!

-- 6 --
It's come to my attention that people are still sending emails to the email address I once had up on this blog... and removed years ago. That email address is not checked often so please don't email me on it. I took it down as a contact on this blog for a reason. If you want to message me, please do it on Twitter or the blog's FB page. I won't be replying on the old gmail email address... which is occasionally used for my mom's personal use.

-- 7 --
I was so excited about the start of Advent... but I didn't start my Advent traditions yet. Sad panda! I mean, I've been keeping up with the Advent calendar but the wreath is up late because I was sick last weekend. I'm trying to catch up this week into the weekend. We'll see how it goes. :)

And that's it. Short, sweet, simple. :D

I hope y'all have a fantastic weekend!

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



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Liturgical New Year!

Our Advent wreath we use every year.
It's the first day of Advent so... Happy Liturgical New Year, everyone! Today the Advent wreath goes on the table (and is blessed), part of the Nativity is set up in the living room, and I go into uber Catholic nerd mode because it (Advent into Christmas) is my most favorite time of year. The start of Advent this year also marks the beginning of the St. Andrew Christmas novena (I do it from the 30th of November through Christmas Eve instead of the 16th of December through 24th) AND the Year of Consecrated Life! Not only that, my godson Neil was baptized yesterday so I have a lot of reason to celebrate and be happy. Can you blame me for geeking out today? lol.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because it is Sunday and I do want to rest (though I've been stuck at home, in bed, for the past three days...) but I wanted to help some of y'all find solid online Advent calendars.

1) XT3 has done an amazing job every Advent and Lent since they began doing virtual calendars for the seasons. It seems like they're doing something new this year (keeping it more simple instead of going a flashier route) so it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the calendar will be presented this year.

2) The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference is doing an Advent Calendar this year. I personally don't know much about the website but I am a Hibernophile (I have a great love for Ireland) and I do have quite a bit of Irish blog readers (yes, I've seen the stats before) so I decided to include it. So far it looks pretty solid and I will definitely check it out this Advent.

3) EWTN doesn't have a calendar but they do have a lot of resources for any Advent related question, tradition, or daily reflection you may be looking for.

Yes, I am aware that there is a popular website for young Catholics (which I will not name) that also does Advent calendars and are doing a special thing (keeping it vague) this year but I decided not to add them on the list for two reasons. First, I didn't like their Advent calendar when I checked it out a couple of years ago and, second, they have questionable content on their website. By questionable content I mean that not everything seems orthodox (read: reminds me of the stuff they "taught" at my alma mater) and some of the content will most likely confuse young, uninformed Catholics than help them so I'm just going to steer clear of that.

I know some people do the Jesse tree and I'm considering doing it this year for myself (as in, just keeping track of the daily symbols in a notebook). Since it's just mom and I at home, we usually just skip this tradition. I think once I have little ones of my own, it'll be something I'll do.

Are there any traditions y'all like to do with your families or by yourselves? Let me know! :D

Alright, it is currently 1:18 a.m. so I should get sleep. By the time this posts (8 a.m. schedule time) I should be either wake up or on the verge of waking up. ;)

I hope y'all have a wonderfully blessed Advent season. :D

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Didn't Choose St. Cecilia, She Chose Me

That's my statue of St. Cecilia sitting on top of our record player.

I like to think that I didn't choose St. Cecilia as my confirmation saint; that she chose me. While this may sound a little weird, I'd like to tell you why I think this... and, if you're new-ish to the blog, you may not know the full story. I did a "fun facts" edition last year but I'm really getting in depth this year.

See, I was confirmed on St. Cecilia's feast day (yes, it's my confirmation anniversary today as well; November 22, 1998)... at a parish named after St. Cecilia... when music was my favorite thing in the world. I wasn't confirmed properly either, so I didn't even choose a confirmation saint. Getting confused? Let me start from the beginning...

When I was 13 years old, my parents decided that I needed to go through the confirmation process. Because, at the time (don't know how it is now), I had to be 15 or older to start the process I wasn't old enough to get confirmed in the States. My parents (well, my dad) didn't want me to go through the process for two years like I did for my first communion so it was decided that I would go down to Tijuana to be confirmed. I fought them as best as I could as at that age. I wanted to wait until I was 15-16 to get confirmed with my friends; I wanted two those years of confirmation preparation. I had no say in it. I was driven back to Tijuana one weekend to get confirmed. I wasn't prepared. I didn't go to confession before getting confirmed. I was completely unprepared for it... but it happened anyway. If you're wondering how they were able to pull that off -- my mother's godmother had a brother who was a priest at a parish named after St. Cecilia in Tijuana. In Mexico they don't (or didn't, at the time) pick confirmation saints so I missed out on that as well. So I was confirmed (and I was unhappy about it at the time because they didn't let me do it the "right" way)... and I fell away from the Church shortly after that.

When I returned to the Church shortly after my 21st birthday, I became really sad about all the missed opportunities I had. I was poorly catechized (part of my first communion preparation was interrupted because the 1994 Northridge Earthquake struck and our classrooms, on the second floor, were damaged beyond repair) and I hadn't been confirmed properly. There's nothing I can do about it (I can't re-do it) but I decided to learn the basics: when I was confirmed, where, etc. My mother found the certificate and that's when I learned the details: confirmed at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Tijuana, Mexico on November 22rd, 1998. I looked up which saint had a feast day on the day... and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was St. Cecilia's feast day. I didn't know much about her so I looked her up: patroness of musicians. At the time, I was heavily involved in school chorus and talent shows (a bit hard to picture from this introvert, eh?) so it seemed perfect that St. Cecilia was connected to my confirmation during that period of my life... and to this day.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I've always loved dancing. If there was music playing, I'd be dancing even before I could stand. I did Mexican folkorico dancing in elementary school. I did the whole cheerleading/drill team thing up until high school. I learned most styles of dancing. To this day, I love dancing. When I was a little girl (under 5), I used to strum my mom's guitar and then run away laughing because I thought I would get in trouble for it. In fact, that's one of my oldest memories. I got a little accordion when I was about 5 years-old... and a harmonica soon followed. I learned piano basics when I was in elementary school. I started playing the guitar in my late teens. I'd been singing in school choirs from elementary school through junior high. I left regular public school in high school due to social anxiety or else I'm sure I would've continued through it. I haven't sung in public since I was about 14-15 years old (mostly because I ended up hating the spotlight; I like to be behind the scenes) but I still sing at home, in the car, and, of course, at Mass. I have music playing nearly 24/7. I've half-jokingly said that music was my first love because of how connected I am to it. Every song has a memory for me. There's a playlist to every major event in my life. Every important person in my life has a song (and memory) attached to them. It's only fitting that my patroness has been St. Cecilia.

When I started blogging, I used to only use "Emmy" (which, as most of you know, is not my actual name but a nickname; it was the name my mother wanted to give me before she was vetoed by my dad) as my pen name. When I learned about my St. Cecilia connection, I adopted the "Cecilia" to my pen name... and that's how "Emmy Cecilia" came to be. Even for my novels, my pen name is my given first name (Melissa) and Cecilia. Even know that people know my actual name from articles I've written under my actual name (which you can find links to on the right side, under the list of past blog posts), I'm going to continue using Emmy Cecilia (or, at the very least, Melissa Cecilia away from social media.)

So that is my story about how St. Cecilia chose me, not the other way around. Sorry it was really long and all of that but I really wanted to write it out, especially today. :D

Alright, I need to go head to confession soon so I should stop writing. :)

I hope y'all are having a wonderful weekend thus far. :D

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Nine

DAY NINE
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Thursday, November 20, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Eight

DAY EIGHT
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Seven

DAY SEVEN
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How I Said "Yes" to God This Week

I will admit, I did not know about this #GraceOfYesDay until the pre-dawn hours this morning. I've been so disconnected from Catholic social media (thanks for that, COMD program... more on that in a bit) that I had missed the memo. However, I'll tell you how I said "yes" to God this week. First, the background story.

As some of you (especially those following me on Twitter) know, it was decided that taking a permanent leave of absence from USU's Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education program was the best option for me. "Superwoman," as some of my friends jokingly call me, hit her "do not pass go; do not collect $200" limit last week. And the decision to leave wasn't done on impulse; it involved a lot of prayer over several weeks.

I had two exams last week, one for Statistics and another for Audiology. At this time, I have not received my Statistics exam score but I was pulling a B or B+ in the class so I'm not worried there. As for audiology, I failed. I spent days (all day on some days) studying. I was so focused on memorizing things and on watching lectures that my mom had to help make me lunch and/or dinner so that I would eat; I literally didn't have the time to make myself something to eat because of the amount of material covered on the exam. I took about 30 pages of handwritten notes. I made flash cards. I woke up early on exam day to go over the notes one last time. I went in confident that I was going to ace the exam... and came out of it earning a 58/98. It was the exam that I studied the hardest for and it was the lowest exam grade I had received on an audiology exam. With that failed exam, there wasn't a way I was going to pass the course with anything better than a C+; a course that was a prerequisite for other courses next semester. Later that day, I received news that a professor's TA (the same class in which the professor falsely accused me of plagiarizing a bibliography) had given me a 9/15 on an assignment I worked hard on; one that I turned in early. She claimed I hadn't submitted all the documentation necessary to complete the assignment when, in fact, I had. The grades stand in that professor's class (even when it's their mistake) so that would've given me a C+ in the class. It doesn't sound like failing except that USU has a "B- or better" policy in grades so I would have had to repeat the course. All of that would've put me back a couple of semesters which meant more loans and more stress on my health that I simply could not afford.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the stress of the courses has greatly affected my health. I haven't weighed myself in a week or so but I was underweight the last time I checked. The stress headaches I was getting when studying for exams were horrific. I wasn't sleeping or eating well. After working my tush off and trying to push myself beyond my limit, I couldn't overcome some of the obstacles thrown my way. The professor's accusatory episode aside, there were a number of other things thrown my way that I now look at as signs that this wasn't meant to be for me. Does this mean I regret taking this path? Not one minute.

I'm incredibly grateful for having had the experience. Thanks to my time in this program, I've been able to show myself that I am capable of so much than I had previously thought possible. While I had once thought that I wasn't capable of teaching in a classroom setting due to my anxiety, the observation/"hands on" hours working with children who are in need of speech therapy showed me that I could. The unfortunate episode with the professors also made me want to teach because it reminded me of how important teachers and professors are at all academic levels. Not only that, the program really made me learn to trust God. I placed everything in His hands in the past couple of weeks. "If you want me to continue down this path, please help me pass these exams. If I don't pass them, I'll know that you want me to go for my Theology M.A." Novenas, prayers from my mom and friends, lots of studying hours, and looking into Plan C (no, I didn't want to leave the program completely) and I still wasn't passing. That's when I knew that I had to say "yes" to God and trusting Him with my career path.

If you've been reading this blog throughout my SLP journey, you know that I initially took this path for financial stability. Yes, I would be helping people (which is what I've wanted to do since I was a child) but ultimately I just wanted to be able to help take care of household expenses. Freelance writing wasn't helping and there weren't (and still aren't) many jobs I could do with a Religious Studies B.A. I've wanted to work for/with/in the Church since my reversion. The passion and fire to help others discover the Truth has always been there... but the job market made me scared. It wasn't until I decided to leave everything in God's hands a few weeks ago that I realized that I wasn't trusting Him to help me find a job upon completion of the M.A. Fail, Emmy... massive fail.

I'm leaving my career path (just like I'm leaving my vocation) in God's hands. I will do His will if He helps me figure out what He wants me to do. I've felt at peace about leaving the SLP path and taking a leave of absence from USU since I received my exam score on Friday. Seriously, I felt amazingly at peace when I saw the test score and knew I wouldn't be continuing. I'm disappointed that something I worked hard towards won't result in anything but a good learning experience for me... but I'm relieved at the same time. I'll be de-stressing over the next couple of weeks (though still working on editing the novel sequel). I'm also incredibly excited about what He has in store for me. I've already sent in my applications to two (for now) wonderfully orthodox Catholic colleges/universities and I hope that I get accepted by one of them. If you can please say a prayer that I get accepted wherever God wants me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

For the tl;dr crowd: I have said "yes" to (what I feel is) God directing my path towards a Theology M.A. and, eventually, to sharing the Truth to the next generation(s) to the best of my abilities. The road is unknown and the job market for those with a Theology M.A. is scary at times but I'm choosing to follow His will (or at least what I think is His will for me) and not doing what will bring me selfish comfort.

And that's it for now. The St. Cecilia novena will continue to be posted until the 21st. I won't get a chance to post the links tomorrow but they're all scheduled to be posted at 8 a.m. PST regardless of whether I tweet/link it in the FB page or not. :D

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

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Six

DAY SIX
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Monday, November 17, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Five

(side note: today's picture is a clue as to what I'm doing today. Yes, it's all related. ;D)

DAY FIVE
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-----------------------------------

Sunday, November 16, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Four

DAY FOUR
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-------------------------------------

Saturday, November 15, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Three

DAY THREE
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-------------------------------------

Friday, November 14, 2014

St. Cecilia Novena, Day Two

DAY TWO
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Cecilia,
St. Cecilia, wise virgin,
St. Cecilia, whose heart burned with the fire of divine love,
St. Cecilia, apostle by your zeal and charity,
St. Cecilia, who converted your spouse and procured for him the crown of martyrdom,
St. Cecilia, who by your pleadings moved the hearts of pagans, and brought them into the true
Church,
St. Cecilia, who did unceasingly see your guardian angel by your side,
St. Cecilia, who mingled your voice with the celestial harmonies of the virgins,
St. Cecilia, who by your melodious accents celebrated the praises of Jesus,
St. Cecilia, illustrious martyr of Jesus Christ,
St. Cecilia, who during three days suffered most excruciating torments,
St. Cecilia, consolation of the afflicted,
St. Cecilia, protectress of all who invoke you,
St. Cecilia, patroness of holy canticles,
St. Cecilia, special patroness and advocate of all singers, musicians, authors, and students,

We salute you, O Virgin, who gave your blood for the defense and faith of Jesus Christ.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God glorified St. Cecilia,
And He crowned her virtues.

Let us pray, O Eternal God, who gave us in the person of St. Cecilia, a powerful protectress, grant that after having faithfully passed our days like herself, in innocence and holiness, we may one day attain the land of beatitude, where in concert with her, we may praise you and bless you forevermore in eternity. Amen.

Hymn
Let the deep organ swell the lay
In honor of this festive day.
Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

Cecilia with a two-fold crown,
Adorned in heaven we pray look down,
Upon thy fervent children here
And harken to their humble prayer.

Let the harmonious choirs proclaim
Cecilia’s ever blessed name.

-------------------------------------