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

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