Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Confiteor Questions

Over the past week or so, there's one topic that I've been chatting about with some of my guy friends: the Confiteor. What is the Confiteor you may ask? It's this prayer...

"I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God."

What I've been bringing up is the fact that I rarely hear it during Mass. Except for my spiritual director and the occasional priest, most other priests (at least in my neck of the woods) seem to prefer different variations during the Penitential Rite.

I'll go ahead and admit that, if I don't hear the Confiteor prayed during Mass, it doesn't seem right to me; it feels like something is missing. I don't know if it's because I grew up attending mostly Spanish Masses and the Confiteor is always used (and you always strike your breast during "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault..."). I don't know if it's a sign that I'm sort of a Mass "snob" because that can be very possible (I cringe when I see liturgical abuses).

This week I've decided to figure out why it seems to no longer be commonly used during Masses. Yes, I know it can be a preference thing amongst priests, but I am curious as to why. Are the options (I believe there's about 3 different prayer options during the Penitential Rite; someone correct me if I'm wrong) a product of Vatican II? When were the options introduced? When was the Confeitor introduced? When prayed during the N.O. (Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form) Mass, why do most people not strike their breast? I feel like I'm the only person under 50 who does it. lol. I have so many questions that are currently unanswered and I'm pretty sure they're going to bug me until I get the answers.

So, that is my mission for the week; to find out the answer to these questions. Does anyone know or can anyone point me in the right direction? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, that's it for now. Yes, I am well aware that I have been posting almost daily. See? I told you Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer (back to) 1.0 was a good idea. lol. ;)

I hope y'all are having a good day.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why I Stopped Using (Most) GIF Memes

I don't know if you guys have noticed that I've stopped using many GIF memes (especially Disney related; which I loved). I was once nominated for a Catholic blog award for best memes because they were pretty awesome. I was amongst the first to use them (when everyone else was using simple, unanimated pictures) and now I'll be amongst the first to stop. Why? Simple: copyright issues.

I've heard that certain people/companies (including Disney) are cracking down on unauthorized use of images. It's hard to stop everyone but they're certainly trying (with whispers of lawsuits against tumblr -- aka GIF heaven -- making rounds). Movie and TV show GIFs are the most commonly used... and the ones that the rights holders really don't want to you use. Using a picture/gif of a scene from a movie without permission... on a Catholic blog? Yeah, let's just avoid lawsuits... I'm poor as it is.

I do still use memes, but these are either credit, reblogged on tumblr by those who own the images/shows/movies (mostly web series -- I mostly use those from Emma Approved and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as the use of gifs seems encouraged by those who own Pemberley Digital), or the movies that are fair use / aren't copyrighted (I have a ton of pre-1926 movie gifs in stock; I love Harold Lloyd movie memes).

If you want to go there (and I know some of you do), you can also argue that copyright violations (aka using without permission) is also considered a sin. Maybe not a mortal sin, but definitely a venial sin. I'm not saying this is correct as I, myself, am not sure whether this is correct but I've certainly heard the argument. Just putting it out there so some of you can look it up if you wish to learn more about that; I'll definitely look it up as well. As a writer, I know that I'd be personally miffed if someone posted my books for free without permission so I'm definitely looking at this issue from both sides.

Anyway, this is just something I've been wanting to write about lately because of the explosion of gif memes that I've seen across the Catholic blogging world. Be careful, y'all... some people are sue happy.

Alright, I am going to finish eating and then go do other productive things that are still on my Wunderlist to-do list. :D

I hope y'all are doing well and having a great week thus far. Halfway to the weekend! Whoo!

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Little Steps

Today I drove to the Cathedral in downtown L.A. It may not seem like a big deal to most of you but when you've had anxiety/panic disorder for half of your life, it's a huge deal. It took me quite a while since I don't live near the downtown area (hello for the suburbs!) and I got there using all streets; I have yet to find a legitimate reason to take the freeway.

On the way there, I was a little nervous but I didn't have any crippling anxiety. I had planned my route using Google Maps and I've grown up in L.A. so I don't get lost very easily. With that confidence I drove out to get myself a St. Brigid of Ireland Tiny Saint to hang out with the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Tiny Saint that I carry next to my keys. Yes, when I'm motivated, I can achieve things. Did I get it? Yes, along with a couple more for one of my best friends. As I drove back home, I couldn't help feeling proud of myself.

It's so easy to believe the lies that you can't do anything. I've heard it before. "Oh, Emmy can't do this because of her anxiety." "Emmy needs help because..." "Yeah, Emmy can't..." Luckily for me, anytime someone says that I can't do something that I know I'm capable of, I get determination to prove them wrong. Learning how to drive, getting my license, driving to places "far" from my apartment... all of these things are goals that I have proven that I can do despite others underestimating me.

I know a lot of people find this blog because of search terms such as "anxiety and Catholicism." In fact, that was partly why I opened this blog 7 years ago; I wanted to show others that having anxiety was nothing to be ashamed about. Stereotypes be darned. They haven't defined me and they don't define anyone who is going through it.

I hope that posts like this show others going through the same thing (anxiety/panic disorder) that it is possible to overcome these kinds of obstacles. If you were to ask my mom if she ever thought it was possible for me to drive, she would honestly tell you "no." No one believed I would eventually conquer the fear to do it. Just remember that when people say "no" to something important, God often says "yes."

Anyway, just a quick little post I wanted to share 'cause I'm honestly so stinking proud of myself. :D Naysayers say whaaat?! lol.

I hope you all had a great Monday (yes, I know Mondays are a punk butt) and have a great rest of week. :D

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anemia and Missed Mass

I am currently sitting on my bed, laptop on my lap, with Love by the Book (Hallmark's latest movie; I'm a sucker for these movies) playing in the background, eyes groggy, and feeling unhappy that I missed Mass this morning.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. (to get ready for the 6:45 a.m. Mass) but I felt terrible. Stomach queasiness and some weakness/fatigue. Back to sleep. Up a while later, still feeling off. Back to sleep. Woke up in time for the last English Mass of the day... only to feel weak (heaviness in muscles) and really off. For the next hour or so, I felt the same -- weak/heaviness, fatigue, groggy eyes (which I still have), and a bit of shortness of breath. 

I worried for a while. "Why am I feeling this way? This is kind of scary. What's going on?" I did the Memorare prayer 3-4 times, asking Mama Mary for help to illuminate my mind. Did I have to go to the ER? Was it anxiety related? I got the idea to look up the symptoms on Google (a big "no no" if you have anxiety/panic disorder) and I found the cause pretty quickly: anemia. All the symptoms I have (and have had this past week) are all anemia related. My anxiety levels went down... and a new determination set in.

I hate missing Mass. If you've read this blog long enough you know that I am reduced to tears most of the time that I can't attend Mass. I say "most of the time" because sometimes I understand that, no matter how hard I try, my body just doesn't cooperate with me... and I know that God loves me regardless. Most of the time, though, I cry because I get frustrated. All I want to do is attend Mass! Why can't I just attend Mass?

Recently I've been "okay" with the fact that my health stinks because I know that it's forced me to slow down and reevaluate things. I was a healthy child and teenager. I rarely got sick and, when I did, it was never too bad... however, I developed a slew of crummy habits and was heading down the wrong path. I will say that I didn't do anything like drinking, drugs, or sleeping around but I was still doing stupid things I regret.

I got anxiety as a teenager (at 15). That forced me to redirect my path. I learned to live with it... and then I was hit with a bad breakdown at 21 that, in the end, resulted in my return to the Church. That put me on the right path. In the past year, I had gotten a handle on my stomach issues and I was thriving in terms of not having anxiety... then I was hit with low platelets (and, lately) anemia.

 I know this (minus the platelets) was brought on by poor nutrition (seriously, I was eating junk) and not taking care of myself for several years (I always put others before myself). I know that this is a good thing because, even though I feel exhausted and blah most days, it's forcing me to finally take care of myself and my needs. Most importantly, it's also giving me the chance to improve my relationship with God. I was so busy and focused on other things that my prayer life took a backseat to everything else. So, thanks for this anemia... but, seriously, why can't I just go to Mass?!

I hope to make it to Mass during the week but I've been trying for weeks without success. Last Sunday I was falling asleep in Mass but I made it. This week... nope. If any of you have any suggestions (besides red meat, lentils, leafy greens, liver, beans, iron-enriched cereals) for anemia, please send them my way. My stomach couldn't handle the iron pills the doctor gave me so... suggestions are welcomed. I'm also going to be selfish and ask for prayers because it's sometimes hard just to make it through the day with the fatigue and/or shortness of breath. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now.

I hope y'all had a great weekend and have a wonderful week. :D

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


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Questions about the Will and Lina Series

I've gotten some questions regarding the Will and Series. Mostly "is Will based on *insert guy's name*?" or "Was *insert chapter* hard to write?" So, for Valentine's Day, I've decided to answer as many questions (or, at least, the top 5-10 questions) asked about the series. As for why I picked Valentine's Day as the day... is it spoiler-y? *shrugs* Was it just a day that I picked because London Calling is my favorite novel I've written? Maybe. ;)

Yes, this is the reason why When Two Worlds Collide was on sale for a week up until yesterday and why London Calling is currently on sale for only 99 cents on Kindle. (side note: the sale will end in a week so get it on sale while you can.) You want to know anything about the series? I'm going to give you guys a chance to ask. No question will go unanswered... unless it's wildly inappropriate.

If you want to ask any questions, you can do so by leaving the question up on the Will and Lina series FB page, this blog's FB page, or over on Twitter. You have until February 12th to send me your questions.

Here's a sneak peak of the kinds of questions (and answers) you can expect:

"Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?"
The short answer: Yes, some characters were based (even in little ways) on people who are/were in my life but more than half of them weren't; my imagination just really got into the writing process.

The long answer:
When Two Worlds Collide
Not based on anyone:
Will, David, Matt, Mrs. Zamora, Odysseus (Odi), Mr. Alonso, Mrs. Alonso, Audrey, and Aiden.

Loosely based on real people:
Lina, Stella, Mikayla, Candace, Mr. Zamora, and Professor Normandy.

London Calling
Not based on anyone (new characters): 
Ethan, Mrs. Alden, Sofia, Henry, Kieran, Ella, Michael, Tom, and Aunt Lizzy.

Loosely based on real people (new characters):
Blake and Stephanie.

There you go. Have more questions? Just ask. ;)

And that's it for now. I have a couple of things to catch up on (mainly: reading and snail mail... and errands).

I hope y'all are doing well. :D

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Learning to Love Myself

For the record, that is not me in the picture but I still thought it was cute and fit with this post.

For many years after my reversion there was one thing that many priests told me: I'm too hard on myself. Part of that was due to the scrupulosity I developed upon my reversion (I wanted to not do anything dumb that would cause me to not receive the Eucharist so I was too overly cautious) and the other part was the fact that I grew up feeling like I was never good enough.

Before I go on I should say that I love my parents. Mom and I still have our strong disagreements at times (differing temperaments) but I still love her. Dad's been gone for almost 6 years now but I still love him as well. I'm so grateful for them and how they raised me because it helped me become the young woman that I am. I mean absolutely no disrespect to them when I say that, though I love them, I know that I'm too hard on myself because that's a habit I picked up growing up.

Growing up, I never felt I was "good enough." Someone was always *insert positive trait* more than I was. Yes, my parents did a great job cheering me on whenever I did something praiseworthy (mostly academic; straight As, awards, graduations)... but there were also comments about how I needed to do/be more. By the time I was old enough to realize that the constant comparisons had hurt my self-esteem, it was too late; the habit was so ingrained in me that I didn't think I would be able to break it. I still struggle with it, but it's becoming easier to deal with.

If one good thing came out of my leaving the speech-language pathology program, it was that I learned to love myself as I am. For the first time in my academic career, I had failed. The one thing I excelled at during most of my life, I couldn't complete. It wasn't because I didn't try hard (my current crummy health is the result of the stress, lack of sleep, and push I did during those 6 months), it just wasn't for me. Having to step back and go "whoa, okay, this is obviously not working; I need to take better care of myself" was the silver lining in this poopy diaper situation. Telling myself that I didn't need to finish this just to show others that I could do it -- that it didn't define who I was -- was the first step in being easier on myself.

Ever since November 14th (the day I officially sent my leave of absence from Utah State), I've been on a mission to take better care of myself. For years I've taken care of others but for the first time in my life, I'm looking after my needs. It's somewhat of a foreign concept to me and I feel selfish at times but I know that I need to do it. This means sleeping more, eating better, exercising more (when the doctor lets me...), de-stressing, and basically doing things for myself. While in the past I might've felt guilty for taking some time off (and I occasionally still feel guilty), I'm learning to say "no, it's okay to take this break; I need it for myself and my health."

Beyond taking care of my physical needs, I'm learning to take care of my mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. I allow myself to do things that may seem silly or boring to others. I love solving puzzles (always have; I used to take apart -- and put back together -- the family vacuum for fun as a child) so I let myself take some time out of my day to work on puzzles or play an online game that isn't time consuming (the one I'm playing takes, at most, 10-15 minutes of my time). I'm a very visual person who feels much younger than she is so I let myself have a little time out to color in some coloring books. (side note: this, by the way, is an excellent way to de-stress or tame anxiety because it makes you focus on something else other than your worries.) Having an accountability person (other than my spiritual director) has also been great for my prayer life.

One of the biggest things I've learned (and am still learning) to do is being okay with my so-called flaws. I think part of that comes with getting older but I also remind myself that I'm not perfect... nor do I want to be. I like all my little quirks. I still get embarrassed when I get caught singing or dancing (especially at the grocery store; I seriously don't even realize I'm singing or dancing along to whatever they have playing until it's too late) but that's okay. It's just who I am -- I'm a happy little nerd who does these things. I may not be *insert trait*, but I'm okay with that. Someone will always be better than I am at everything. However, that doesn't matter as long as I remember that what really matters is that I'm consistently trying to be a good person who loves God. I may fail (miserably some times) but I'll never stop trying. As long as these little things are adding up to a healthier, happier me, I'll be okay.

Earlier this morning I sent out a tweet that said:

I've been denying myself of luxuries for so long that the gift (to myself) of a mug and the Lent journal seem like I'm spoiling myself. However, I think I've earned the right to get myself a little something for Valentine's Day. Remember, the day is not only about romantic love (although consumerism really goes with). :D

Anyway, this is what's been bouncing in my head this morning. I only slept about 3 - 3.5 hours last night and I'm just getting sleepy enough to try to take a nap. Interesting to see what goes on in one's mind while sleep deprived... Okay, I just yawned and it's getting harder to keep my eyes open so nap it is. :D

Before I take a nap, I would like to give you a challenge: I dare you (all of you lovely readers) to do something for yourself today. Having a good dessert/chocolate bar. Take a nap. Color. Take 5 minutes out of your day and do nothing. Whatever floats your boat and makes you happy, do it. Smile and remember how awesome you are. :)

I hope y'all have a great rest of day!

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Blogging Change; Back to 1.0

Sorry for not writing for over a week but I've been busy and/or sick (stress-induced physical symptoms like extreme fatigue). But I'm here to tell you why I'm changing my blogging style a little bit...

Do you know what I miss? I sort of miss having anonymity. I miss the days in which very few people knew who I really was because it allowed me to be more open. I'm not saying that it's bad that people have gotten to know me better but I miss having the chance to be more candid about what was going on in my life. I feel like I can't really do that anymore because a good number of you know me personally (having met offline; for that I am NOT sorry) and I feel (and know) that some of you automatically begin to wonder who I am talking about if I mention someone on the blog. That's a big reason why I don't talk about my relationships or why I'm very vague and not specific about that part of my life. (side note: the bigger part of that is because I like those feelings and thoughts to stay between myself and the person that I love.) It feels so good to have that part to myself. However, I feel like in some respect I've failed to uphold a promise I made to myself when I started the blog: not to hold anything back... and I want to get back that.

That doesn't mean I'm going to be an open book. But I think I'm going to ditch some of the blogging habits I've developed over the past couple of years. I was considering that when Clare wrote about why she wasn't blogging more regularly and how she doesn't care about popularity. Thanks to Clare (who I've always adored and who consistently inspires me to be a more Godly woman), I was reminded of the joys I had before I felt the pressure to produce certain kinds of blog posts. "But *insert name of high-profile Catholic person* says you're great, I expect high quality posts/a better and/or holier person" and/or "You're a writer, I expect you to write like one" you might be saying. Yes, I've been personally told at least one of these things recently (though I paraphrased.) Like Clare, I don't care about popularity in the Catholic world. I just want to express myself. So... welcome to Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer, back to 1.0.

Here are how most of my posts will sound like:

Can I just say how excited I am about praying the Rosary more often? I'm so happy that I've asked a fellow Kindred Spirit (yes, we even call each other KS because we're nerdy like that ;D) to be my accountability partner because it motivates me to not be put into a cone of shame for failing. I failed last night BUT I got day six of the novena to Our Lady of Lourdes in as well as my nightly prayers so it's not like I failed to pray altogether; I just ran out of time. Oops. Yes, I will wear my cone of shame today because I failed to better manage my time yesterday. Oh, Sundays... why do I fail to pray on Sundays (outside of Mass)? *shakes fist* Mof-bama!!! (That's Steven Moffat and Obama put together; inside joke with my twinnie.)

You know what I'm really sad about? The fact that my fatigue has gotten so bad that I still can't wake up early enough to attend daily Mass or even the first Mass of the day on Sundays. I miss daily Mass; it was the highlight of my day when I was able to do it. The first Mass on Sunday mornings is my absolute favorite as well. It's quiet (no music except for the nuns and my SD singing) and it's more my speed...

Okay, so here's the real reason why I want to return to the 6:45 a.m. Mass: there's this guy at our (for now) usual Mass that has a habit of looking in my direction quite often (homeboy doesn't even hide it; it's so obvious that I've had someone else comment on it) and that throws me off. I just want to focus on listening and feeling like I'm there for God. Why do you think I like mantillas so much (other than what it symbolizes)? Because it creates a sort of curtain that helps me focus on the fact that what's right in front of me (the Mass being celebrated) is what matters the most. It blocks out all the outside distractions and when the guy (who will usually sits a couple of pews in front of me and usually within my view; hey, I get there before he does so I pick my pew before he does) distracts me; it makes me self-conscience. God, please help me find a way to combat this fatigue so I can get up to both daily Mass and the 6:45 a.m. Mass on Sundays. Please. I would be so happy if I could do both. I'm sure the guy is nice and all but I'm just not interested and I'm really not a fan of unwanted attention. No me gusta!

... and that is all I'm cramming into this blog post. lol. I have more to write but I'll save it for the next time. No deadlines for this; I'll write when the mood strikes... which is actually more often than not but I've been so tired lately that all I really want to do is sleep all day.

Verso l'alto? Verso l'alto! That reminds me... I should finish the Bl. Pier Giorgio novel I'm reading... after I clean the house. I know the doctor said no exercise but I think the inactivity is actually making me feel even more tired and sleepy. Eh, I'll just sort of dance while I vacuum. Compromise, right? It's not a full workout but it's not me not doing anything. Yeah, that works (or so I'm telling myself).

Alright, I'm off to get some light exercise (I said "light," doc...) and then see what else I can do while I'm not too tired. :)

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes Vol. 23: Misc. Edition

At my last doctor's appointment (on the 26th), I was told not to exercise because I was underweight. My metabolism is apparently really fast so I burn calories easier than I can put them on. No, don't wish you had the same problem; it's a pain because being underweight comes with its own set of health issues. Anyway, I've been sedentary... and it stinks. I like being active. I love dancing. I sincerely enjoy hiking and taking long walks in scenic places. I'm already dreaming of all the hikes I will attempt (if I can find someone to be my hiking buddy) as soon as I get the okay from the doctor. I'm going to start the #FreeEmmy hashtag every time I start feeling a bit of cabin fever.

I've decided to do something novel(s) related for Valentine's Day. No, that is not a real spoiler; I just chose Valentine's Day because I wanted to do something fun for the day. I'll post the details later on. I'll just say: if you've ever wondered if anyone or anything in either of the novels is based on a real life person or event, you can ask and I will give you the honest answer without pleading the fifth. If you have yet to read either, you should get either a physical of copy or Kindle version of When Two Worlds Collide and/or London Calling before the beginning of February. Again, details will come soon. ;)

I've been participating in Blessed is She's #projectblessed Instagram challenge/project since the first of January and I've been loving it. I'm a little late on the Blessed is She wagon but I love receiving the daily devotions emails from them... and I'm loving the tight-group feeling. I was one of the first #Cathosorority gals but I left quite some time ago because I honestly felt like I no longer fit in. I know it's still going strong and it's a great place for some Catholic gals but as a single young woman, I no longer felt a part of it. I don't feel that way with the gals from Blessed is She. Yes, I think most are mamas or at least married but I don't feel excluded for not being a mama or not being married. God bless whoever thought of this website. Thank you!

After doing some financial rearranging, we can afford cable again... at least for now. It's so nice to have the Hallmark Channel and TCM again because those are the two that I missed the most. I missed the "chick flicks" from Hallmark as well as the classics on TCM. We actually got a really great (read: cheap) deal so it'll actually be cheaper than if we had just stayed with internet and the local channels. The deal is only for a year but, if in a year we see that we can't continue, we'll be cutting it off again. I'll enjoy it while I can. ;) This doesn't mean that I'll be stuck in my room, watching TV all day (I'm still planning on reading a lot before grad school begins) but at least now I'll have more options than I did on Amazon Prime which is the only paid service we have.

I asked a good friend to be my Rosary accountability partner because I needed one. I really want to get back into the habit of praying the Rosary daily and I know it'll be easier if I have someone checking up on me. We talk almost daily so I'll be able to let them know if I mess up. So far I've dropped the ball like 2-3 times but I'm getting there. Does anyone else use an accountability partner for their prayer life? If so, have you noticed a positive change?

My big brother called me earlier this week with big news that would be life changing for mom and I. I have to be vague for now but if you guys can please say a prayer that the deal goes through, I'd greatly appreciate it. This is something that mom and I have been praying about for years (I think almost since my dad passed away almost 6 years ago) and if it all goes according to plan, it'll be one of the biggest weights off of shoulders. Thank you in advance.

This past week I've been obsessed with Emilie Mover's albums. Yes, she's a "children's musician" but she did an amazing job on an album of Peggy Lee covers. The album is called Sings Peggy Lee and I highly recommend it to anyone who love jazz vocals. Her voice reminds me somewhat Billie Holiday's so I'm loving it.

For more Quick Takes visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

That's it for now. I have a ton of errands to run in less than an hour. Yikes! ;)

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Was Accepted to Christendom's Grad School!

It started off like any normal day. I got up. I received a call that my godson's surgery went well. I prayed the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary while cooking breakfast. I ate. I ran errands. I picked up mom from work. I then went to spiritual direction.

I returned home from spiritual direction, upset that I had taken chalk but failed to get it blessed because my spiritual director and I got into an awesome conversation about saints. I opened up an Epiphany gift from a family friend. 

After gushing over the gift, I went down to the mailbox. I saw the mess the mailman left. I groaned. "Dude, c'mon. I know you and I don't like each other but why did you have to do this?" I looked at the overstuffed mailbox. There was something from our parish addressed to my mom. Lots of flyers from local stores. Hidden in the corner, a large manila envelope. "Huh. Did someone send me an Epiphany gift?"

I took the envelope out and looked at the address. "Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College." Surprise! I wasn't expecting to hear from either Christendom or Franciscan University of Steubenville (where I also applied to grad school) until next week at the earliest. I piled the rest of the contents of the mailbox on top of the mailboxes. There's only one thing I could do: find out the decision.

In a weird moment, I remembered the episode where Rory Gilmore was accepted to Harvard, Yale, etc. All those big packets in the Gilmore mailbox. "Thick packets usually means good news," I told myself. "No, I must wait to read it before I get too excited."

I turned the envelope around and proceeded to try to get it open. I struggled a bit, of course. I eventually get it open, taking out the thick packet carefully. It's a blue folder with a letter paper-clipped to it. I began reading:

"Dear Melissa," it said. "Congratulations! Your application..." I stopped reading and rushed to see where I could find the word "accepted." Ah, there it is on the second line; only it says "approved."

I jumped up and down in the mail room. "I gotta share this with mom! Oh, and the manager is probably watching me through the cameras -- and probably making fun of me since I'm acting like a child right now -- but I don't care." 

I gathered up all the mailbox contents and ran upstairs. I told my mom as soon as I opened the door, even before I stepped inside. She congratulated me. The next two minutes were a blur. Somewhere in there I shared the photo on Instagram. In the caption I added: "Best Epiphany gift ever!" It really is.

There were so many of you who prayed that I would get into either Christendom or Franciscan (still waiting to hear back from them as well) and I did! Thank you! I'll await Franciscan's decision before I make my final decision. There are a lot of factors that will go into the decision making (mostly financial)... but the fact that I now have an option to attend grad school in the fall is amazing. Seriously, thank you all who prayed for me! Once the excitement dies down a little I'll write a decent post. ;)

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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Anointing of the Sick

Happy New Year, everyone! I took a little break from blogging to enjoy some much needed time off... and to take care of my poor mama who ended up getting a 24-hour stomach bug yesterday. Everyone is well now and I have time to write so... here I am. :)

I wanted to write about something that few people know about. On Christmas Day, I received (for the second time) the Anointing of the Sick from my spiritual director. I actually didn't have that planned... at all. I talked to my SD after Mass and he asked if I wanted to get anointed because both mom and I hadn't been doing too well lately. I said okay (I had more unexplained weight loss, low platelets, low white blood count, low red blood count, low iron, etc.) because I knew the graces that come with the Anointing. Last time I received one was a couple of years ago when the doctors couldn't figure out what was going on with my stomach and it greatly helped.

This time around the doctors are still trying to guess what's going on with my platelets (they've yet to officially diagnose me with ITP), iron (I'm not absorbing it for some reason), and my being underweight despite eating 1800-2100 calories per day (most days). No, I don't exercise (doctor's orders, if you can believe it; I'm only allowed to take walks) so I shouldn't be losing so much weight or even failing to maintain the weight. It's been a tough time and I do have moments where I do feel frustrated and/or sad over it so I knew that the Anointing would help put things in perspective for me and would help me carry my cross with more humility and love and less distress and hopelessness. What I didn't count was the immediate results we saw in the blood draw the following day.

My doctor on the 26th (I have rotating doctors taking care of me) really wanted to get me checked for anemia since my iron had been so low for months. In fact, I had my blood drawn on the 23rd and my platelets and everything else was still low. My platelets had been at 119k (141k is low normal) so she also ordered a complete blood count. I got blood drawn that same day for immediate results. I got a copy of my results yesterday (since I don't have another doctor's appointment until late February, I didn't want to until that long to get my results) and was shocked to see that almost everything had jumped up. My platelets had gone up to 132k (I haven't had them that high in months, possibly a year or two). My white blood count and red blood count had gone up to normal numbers for the first time in months. It did show that I do have some iron-deficiency anemia but that can be taken care of with vitamin supplements. Some other things in the blood work came back a bit abnormal but not to the point where the doctor was concerned. On paper (and, really, in person) it looks like I'm on the mend. All of this from blood work taken a day after being anointed... 3 days after the first blood draw with (then) low levels. I couldn't believe it... yet, I could.

After I went to confession, I knelt in front of the tabernacle and thanked God for all the graces and blessings He's given me. I hadn't been doing well -- emotionally/psychologically or physically -- for a while. I might've not talked about it but I went through a brief period of depression due to health concerns late last year and it felt like a deep hole of despair that I couldn't get out of at its worse. My prayer life was in shambles. I still prayed but it was very monotonous; just going through the motions. I mentally knew that I had to trust God and I tried so hard to let go of any fear but it's sometimes hard when well-meaning people just make you feel worse and/or when you can't see that light at the end of the tunnel. I'd slowly felt myself getting out of that dark hole and the anointing made me feel like God had finally pulled me out of that hole.

No, my health isn't the greatest still but I don't feel so alone anymore. I think you can even see the difference in my blog posts. Seriously, compare the ones from before the 25th/26th of last month to the most recent ones -- you can tell the tone is different. Yes, I know that the future (as far as my health) is unknown but I feel more prepared to face it on. See? I'm building on the whole bravery thing I talked about last time. ;)

If some of you can please refrain from the "oh, you're always sick," "I feel so bad for you," or comments similar to that (which are well meaning, I'm sure, but end up making me feel worse), I'd greatly appreciate it. I don't want anyone to feel pity towards me. I'm sharing all of this because I hope that it'll help someone going through the same thing (or a similar health issue) not feel so alone. I have faith that God will help me. If it's a cross I need to carry, He knows why and I know I have to (and I do) trust Him. His plans for me are greater than those I have for myself. Who knows, maybe this is all temporary because I need to learn or gain something from it. Whatever is God's will, I accept wholeheartedly.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with y'all. :D I'm really enjoying listening to the 99 Most Essential Romantic Masterpieces album so I'm going to call it a night on social media and listen to that while I have some silent prayer time before bed. Yes, I know listening to music and having "silent" prayer time means it won't be entirely silent but I've found that I do some of my best heart-to-heart moments with God when there's music involved. You know St. Cecilia is proud of me. ;)

I hope y'all have a wonderful rest of weekend! I'll be praying for y'all. :D

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