Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Sacrifices are Coming!

Can you believe that we're only two weeks away from Lent? What?! The period between Christmas season and Advent always flies by the quickest for me. Even though I'm still a bit in Christmas mode (sorry, I'm in that mentality until February 2nd; Candlemas), I'm not ready to let it go. (side note: if you find yourself singing "Let it Go" I truly apologize. Have a donut and say it's from me as an apology gift.) While chatting with one of my best friends about what we were giving up for Lent, I had no clue. At least, I didn't at the time. It took me some time but I think I've figured out what I'm doing for Lent this year.

Last year I didn't really give up anything because, well, I tend to do that during the year. Doing it during Lent doesn't challenge me as much as it may others because of how used to it I am (from food to entertainment, etc). "What can I possibly give up that's hard?" I wondered. Then it hit me: Twitter. Soccer? Slightly hard to give up one year. Certain foods? Easier since I do that on a regular basis anyway (thanks dyspepsia and food intolerances!). Social media has been cut back during Lent in past years but never fully given up. Just an hour or less per day. I've been doing that lately (though I've slipped a bit since my bro's visit last week). Giving it up "cold turkey"? Sad to say it's going to be nearly impossible but I'm going to do it. Or try. I'll say "try" so I don't beat myself up too badly if I fail. I'm not even going to give myself an incentive to not cave: doing something for my well being is reward enough.

For those of you who rely on Twitter to find out when I have a new blog post, I'll have something set up so new links will be posted as soon as they go up. I may also share the odd link straight from the website (i.e. Blessed is She's reflections or news from Zenit, ChurchPop, or Catholic News Agency -- only Catholic stuff for Lent, what an idea!) but I won't log into Twitter for that. I also won't send anything out unless it's one of those "yes! this needs to be read by others!" articles. If you're also giving up Twitter, the blog's Facebook Page gets updates right away. If you're giving up all social media, you can sign up to have new blog posts delivered to your inbox. That nifty button is on the right side of the blog (not accessible on mobile; sorry).

Am I giving up anything else in terms of social media? Nope. Don't really use Pinterest much and can go weeks without even logging in. Tumblr can be neglected for days and I can get everything done there in under 5 minutes when I do log in. Facebook will be cut down to once a day for 5 minutes if only because I only have 34 people on my list -- most of whom rarely or don't (at all) use Twitter -- and it's what I use to get news on the Latin Masses in the L.A. area and other information that I don't get elsewhere. Twitter is my addiction but I hope giving it up for Lent will be good for me and will make it easier for me to use is less during the rest of the year.

Let's forget the fact that I'm wasting so much valuable time on it. It's not just a time waster for me; it's where I rant, where I get annoyed, where uncharitable thoughts pop up, where I get upset, where... well, I'm focusing too much on myself and my own feelings and not enough on God when I get on Twitter. Let's be honest: some of us may want to use it as an evangelization tool but not many of us actually use it for that. I'm not shaming you; I'm in that same boat.

Oh! I just remembered that I am giving up on more thing for Lent: uncharitable words and thoughts. Guess where most of them come from. You guessed it: Twitter. When I'm already cranky and/or upset about what my mom is going through at work (please keep praying for her), it's so much easier to see something on Twitter and allow it to feed my annoyance. Bleh. No. Bad Twitter! Bad Emmy, too! No one is forcing me to go on Twitter when I'm on the verge of being a "stroppy cow." (Gotta love British idioms.) Twitter is the main source (online) of my uncharitable thoughts and words so it makes sense to give one to be able to help the other. 

I'm also adding a couple of things: an extra hour of prayer per day, daily Mass when I'm able (no appointments, not sick), and an extra act of charity during the day. I've arranged it so my "reading for pleasure" books are all either Catholic or written by Catholic authors during Lent. Yes, that explains my current choice of books. I'm sure I'll add something else but that will be something between me and God. ;)

Since I cannot fast (I'm still underweight) and I need meat (though I can do meatless Fridays by eating other things for iron intake), I'm going to give up ALL social media and music (gulp) on the days that I cannot fast but others are required to. I forgot what I gave up last year but I don't remember it being particular hard so I must challenge myself this year.

My plans for Lent may seem silly to others ("ha! Twitter?") but if you've ever been addicted to anything, you know hard it is to make yourself stop. Oh, social media... Y U so hard to give up? Cue rick-rolling video from a certain someone with a mustache who hosts his own radio show. ;)

What are y'all giving up for Lent? Let me know, especially if you need an accountability partner. Seriously, I will gladly keep tabs on anyone if you need an accountability person.

Side thought: I return to grad school right during Easter time, on April 4th. The symbolism isn't lost on me. It's how my school's quarter is set up but, for my particular situation and everything I've been through, it seems especially appropriate that that will be my return date. Wind down my break during Lent, return in Easter. New beginnings. New hope. Well played, JP Catholic and the overall timing. Well played. ;)

Alright, I have about 6 weeks eBooks or so to read in a little under 3 weeks so I'm going to try to get those read before they're due back to the LAPL. :)

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far!

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Reason Why I Don't Always Post What I Want

No, the title is not click bait. I'm going to tell you exactly why I don't always post what I want and why some things never make it out of the "drafts" folder. Before I get into that, though, I'll give a little update on what's been going on with me. I promise it's all connected.

As most of you know, my big brother came to visit us from Texas for the week. It was great to see him and we had fun on our adventures (seriously still recovering from all those times we went out) but I don't think I've ever gotten so much out of one of his visits before.

He was not happy to see me so thin. In fact, his parting words to me were "you can do it! Get healthier. Gain some weight. You can do it!" (side note: yes, he said it twice.) Thankfully he didn't even see me at my thinnest. I am slowly gaining weight and getting healthier. My energy levels have risen significantly since I've started implementing some of the things I came up with to combat SAD as well as eliminated wheat from my diet. While I tested negative for a gluten allergy we've noticed that after eating wheat I'm physically and mentally drained. I've decided that, unless it's an emergency or it's the Eucharist, I'll be eliminating it from my diet. Receiving the Eucharist doesn't physical drain me; I've already tried it. :) So I'm making great strides there.

My stress levels are practically nonexistent. I think having my bro here also helped since he made sure I wasn't at home if he could help it. I didn't even stress or have any anxiety during rush hour traffic through Hollywood. Yeah, it's quite miraculous. lol. The great thing about him is that he's like my personal cheerleader. If he sees me start to doubt myself, he begins saying "you can do it. Don't have a care about it; just do it!"

This weekend I've been thinking about his words "you can do it! Don't have a care about it; just do it!" I had written a blog post yesterday but I didn't post it because I was worried about what others might've thought about the topic. My brother's words kept replaying until I went "well, darn it... it's my blog. Why am I so worried about what I write?" Hello realization that I don't always post what I want out of fear of what others think... especially when it comes to the faith.

I'm just gonna say it: I don't always post what I want because I've been accused of being "too pious" and/or too religious. I've become very self-conscious about what I share, not only on my blog and social media but also in person and with friends, because of the comments and eye rolls. I didn't say or write things to seem pious; I said and wrote them because that's what I felt and that's what I felt compelled to share. These days, I feel like I almost have to hide that part of myself because of what others say, which is incredibly silly of me to do but that people pleasing side of myself occasionally slips back into that terrible habit.

That's the thing though -- my faith is, by far, the biggest thing in my life. I've chosen to make God my main focus. I may not always share it and I'll fail at times but it's always there. The realization that I've hidden it out of fear of other's comments has made me very sad yet very determined to shed that fear. I don't need that in my life. I'm doing a disservice to God in keeping my love for Him to myself.

Yeah... you guys may not like the kinds of posts I will start posting in the upcoming weeks but, well, that's going to be the new normal. I'm sorry. What I'm going to write is what I think and what I feel. If you don't think or feel the same way, that's totally fine. I'm not here to judge anyone or anything but my own actions. You can disagree with me. You can say things to make me feel bad about my "ridiculous piety." Though I'm admittedly a sensitive person, I'm going to prepare myself for the comments and turn the other cheek. I'm not going to fight it. I'm sorry but I just can't keep doing it. Very curious that I got St. Rose of Lima as my patron saint for the year in Jen Fulwiler's random saint name generator last month. ;)

Anyway, I just needed to get this off my chest. Talking and/or writing things out helps me process things and also gives me an incentive to go through with the plans so... there you go.

I'm really enjoying my time away from social media with all the eBooks and audiobooks that I've been checking out of the Los Angeles Public Library so I'm going to start one of the two new books I got today. :)

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

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

St. Therese and Vocation Doubts/Fears

Something funny happened to me earlier this week as I was finally putting all my living room books (which are the ones I actually want to read; not like the ones in "storage" in my book cave) to the bookcase: a prayer card I don't remember purchasing or receiving of St. Therese's was casually on top of one of my books. I didn't put it there. In fact, I had no idea I even owned this prayer card. That wasn't the funny part -- the book it was on top of was the funny bit.

If you're still wondering why I find this funny, it's very simple: she's one of the three saints I've prayed to regarding my vocation over the years and this after some vocation doubts. (side note: St. Raphael and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are the other two.) Look at the cover a little closer and you'll see that it has red roses adorning the border of the cover. I see what you're doing, Little Flower. ;)

The timing is impeccable because, as I've said, I've been having some... I don't want to say doubts but something in between doubts and fears regarding my future husband. Yes, I'm still single but a conversation I had earlier this week put some of these negative thoughts into my head.

Basically, this person and I were talking about my food allergies/intolerances. I've never been formally tested for an egg allergy but I display some of the symptoms of one... or did the last time I had any eggs. I'm getting a dairy allergy blood test done in March but I also had some of the allergy symptoms when we took it out of my diet over a decade ago. While the gluten intolerance blood test came back negative nearly 2-3 years ago, I've noticed that I feel lethargic for a couple of days after I eat a lot of wheat. When I take it out completely, I'm full of energy. I'll have to talk to my doctor about whether I'll permanently remove it from my diet or just reduce the amount that I eat but, for now, I'd rather not have any of it.

All of this -- plus what I've gone through in recent month -- made the person I was talking to say "wow, your poor future husband. What's he going to eat? I was sort of taken aback by this comment. "What do you mean?" I asked them. "Just because I can't eat something doesn't mean no one else can't. I make mom dishes that have dairy and eggs in them, no problem. I just make myself something else." The conversation then went into a place which I don't like visiting: the dungeon of fear regarding my vocation and future spouse.

In this dungeon of fears resides my biggest fear regarding my vocation: marrying the wrong person. It lives with its brother, Who the Heck is Going to Want to Endure What I Go Through? (or "Good Luck, Pal" for short) and its sister, Maybe You Didn't Discern Your Vocation Properly ("Nagging Nelly" for short). Between the three, I can have some pretty awful moments in which I question my vocation. While none of these have escaped from the dungeon in recent weeks, I got a glimpse of them during this conversation.

I'll be honest and say that, yes, I do wonder if I'll ever meet a fella who is going to say "your life isn't easy but I'm willing to endure this with you." I've always had stomach issues, even when I was a little kid. I can go weeks, months, or even years without issues as long as I take care of myself. Because of how bad recent stress levels have been, my stomach has been a pain to deal with. Thankfully I'm learning what triggers it (stress and anxiety) and what I can do to help it heal faster. Now that I'm also noticing which foods can aggravate it, it's getting better. Still, I know some people must go "wow, poor girl. So hard." A lot of people aren't aware of the multitude of options I have. I've learned to substitute eggs in baked goods with applesauce, bananas, and other things. Need flour? There's rice flour. Milk? There's so many options. I cut wheat out of my diet almost a month ago (reintroducing it briefly as part of an elimination diet) and I've still managed to gain a little bit of weight (which I'm excited about).

Sometimes I wonder if guys see this as a big obstacle. I don't like to go out to eat without checking menus and ingredient lists online first. I'd rather cook at home. In fact, I sincerely enjoy it. I just want to keep myself healthy, you know? I'm sure some guys see this as a huge hassle. Then we have other obstacle... which I personally don't see as an obstacle: my mother. Yes, there is a reason I brought her up; she was the second part of my conversation.

My mother is part of the packaged deal. While she doesn't meddle in my affairs (she's always let me make my own mistakes so I can learn and grow from them and I know she won't get involved in any squabbles I may have with future fella), I know guys don't like that. A lot of guys have basically said "oh... she's in your life that much? See ya!" I'm always going to want to live as close to her as possible because of her memory issues. I can't abandon her, you know? What a wretched thing it would be; to leave her to fend for herself during her moments in which she needs someone to help her. However, this is also part of my fear.

Taking my food intolerances and stomach issues, my occasional anxiety (which is getting better, thank goodness), and my mother being close... I sometimes fear that I'm going to stay single because no guy is going to want to deal with that. I try to remain optimistic and say that someday a guy will look at these things and go "oh, those aren't deal breakers; I want to go through this with you. We can do this together." That's my mentality most of the time... but the terrible trio of doubts will occasionally try to trip me.

Seeing the St. Therese prayer card on top of a book about dating was a sort of "hey, don't listen to those doubts; just keep praying" sign for me. No, I don't need signs but it was a lovely reminder to trust God. St. Therese was so sure of her vocation, even when she had to wait years to be allowed to enter the convent. Maybe she and I should have a conversation in the form of a novena. Maybe she can inspire me to do something more. I pray for my future husband but maybe not as often as I should. Maybe I should step up my prayers for my own vocation as well. Yes, I also pray that God prepares me for my future husband as well. I've entrusted this to the Immaculate Heart of Mary -- to help guide me to be the best wife I can be to my future husband and the best mama our future kids can have. I want to have strength where he may be weak and I'm sure God is preparing him to be strong where I'm weak.

Anyway, I'm writing this past midnight (it's almost 1 a.m. right now) because it's just something that I felt a strong urge to share on this blog. I'm not sure if I'll chicken out and delete this before it gets published but, if I don't, I hope that these rambling thoughts make sense to someone. I rarely see blog posts about fears regarding their vocations as future spouses so I hope this helps someone in the same boat.

Alright, I should try to get some sleep. It's already way past my bedtime.

I hope y'all are doing well! :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where Have All the Gentlemen Gone?

As my cousin and my brother both rushed to open the doors (each opened one of the two doors) for me at a restaurant on Saturday, I had this weird moment in which I didn't know what to think or do. "Wait... you're opening the door(s)? For me? Really? Why... thank you!" Every time my brother opens the doors for both mom and I -- including the car door -- I'm just a little surprised that I get that experience. It's not that he hasn't always done it; I just don't experience it outside of my family and the odd guy friend too often. Now that I think about it, I think only one or two of my guy friends do this for me and one of them started doing it after one of his friends called him out on it. "You don't open the door for Emmy? She's a lady. What is wrong with you?" He's done it since and I thank him every time.

I don't know if it's because I've been brought up with "old fashioned" values or because I never went "full feminist" when I was away from the Church, but I grew up sort of expecting men to open doors for me. I know the word "expecting" sounds horrible to some but that was my reality. My parents taught me that it was good manners for men to open doors for women. They didn't do it because a woman was weak or fragile; they did it as a sign of respect. "Men should treat women how they would treat their mothers or would want others to treat their mothers" was the reason I was given. It seems logical; who wouldn't want their mother (or father) to be respected? In fact, the thought that men opening doors for women was a sign of our implied weakness never entered my mind until recently when someone said that feminists argue that that's why they don't want men opening doors for them. That just seems silly to me.

Before I go on I should also say that I was also taught that the "men should open doors for women" mentality excludes elderly and disabled men for obvious reasons. In fact, I was taught to give up my seat to an elderly person (man or woman) on a crowded bus. Again, it's out of respect and the fact that as we enter a certain age, we slow down and our bodies aren't as strong as they once were. 

I don't know if my generation (Millennials who are now as old as their mid-late 30s or as young as their mid-late teens) was just not taught proper manners by those who should've taught us better or if society collectively tried to change what was the norm for us. Maybe it's a combination of both. I know I personally had conflicting ideals from both my parents and school and what was portrayed in the media, especially when it came to morals. Either way, it's gotten to the point where I'm actually shocked when a young man who is under 35 acts like a gentleman. 

Now, fellas, I'm not dumping on all of you. I do know some "feminists" (and I use quotes because my definition of the word is undoubtedly different from others') do have issues with men doing things like opening doors, offering to carry heavy items, etc. I do know that our society has become too PC and doing any "old fashioned" could get you labeled as being sexist or even chauvinistic. Personally I think it's ridiculous and I would like to urge men -- and especially young men -- to fight it. Not with words but with gestures. 

Employ the golden rule with slight modification: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Think about how you'd want someone else to treat your mother, your sister, your wife, or even your daughter. Open doors for women or even elderly men. Pull out chairs for us. Offer to carry heavy things for us. You men have better upper body strength than we women. It's a biological fact, people. That's why men can lift and carry heavier things easier than us women. On the flip side, we women have better lower body strength which is why we're the ones who are biologically prepared to carry another human being for 9 months. Logic.

Don't worry about what others may say or how they may react. We have this incredible opportunity to help the next generation (and younger generations) rediscover proper manners. Little kids seeing it done frequently will be more likely to do the same when they get older because it'll be the norm for them. Ladies, let's try to give guys encouragement when they do these gestures. Let's thank them for their chivalry. I'm sure a smile and a "thank you" would be appreciated. What do you say? Do you accept this (sort-of) challenge I'm issuing you?

Anyway, this was just a quick blog post about something I've been thinking about for the past couple of days. I need to go get a late lunch started so that mom has something to eat when she gets home. Oh, and if you could please say a prayer for her, I'd greatly appreciate it. There was an aggressive black dog that wanted to bite her yesterday and she fell and scraped her kneecaps pretty badly trying to get away from it. Since it was raining and she fell hard on the asphalt, she was in a lot of pain yesterday. Please and thank you.

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far. :D

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Messes and Brothers and Podcasts! Oh My!

Messes. Messes everywhere. I'm itching to get them cleaned up but I'll blog first because I don't know when I'll have time to write (or even read!) again.

If you've been following me on Twitter, you know that we had new carpet installed in our entire apartment last Friday. Thank goodness! Our carpet was about 15 years old and we were having major allergy problems with it, not to mention that the nails were starting to poke out. We started moving things on Thursday morning because it was scheduled to be done on that day but they ran out of time. Anyway, moving everything and having the old carpet ripped out meant that I had to disconnect the wifi since the cable modem is set up in the living room and can't be moved from that specific area. Yes, I was technically internet-free (at least via the laptop and iPod touch) for a while. It was quite liberating. I actually kept things unplugged for hours longer than necessary. I had my basic internet needs met by my phone and even then I didn't use it too much. It was great. That's part of the reason why I haven't blogged lately. That and...

My brother is visiting for the week! Hooray! He arrived on Saturday night. I was supposed to get my car back in time to pick him up from the airport that day. Nope. I called the mechanic (I kid you not) about 25 times all day trying to get a hold of him so I could get my car on time. At around noon he promised he would have it done before 7 p.m. Nada. He didn't call me back until around 9 p.m. (while I was arriving at the airport in my neighbor's van) telling me that he had the wrong power steer part and that he'd have my car ready for Monday night. Guess who still doesn't have her car back on Tuesday afternoon. Yep, still me. Thankfully my downstairs neighbor was kind enough to drive us to the airport to pick my bro up and then broski rented a car for the week (which I wish I could've prevented with the use of my own car) so we're set until this weekend when he goes back home.

Having my brother here has been great! We missed him terribly. I've been out of the house every day (except today) that he's been here which has been great but draining. I'm pretty sure his extrovert nature doesn't get that my introvert nature needs to recharge after days of going out. We've been to various parts of the city and county over the last couple of days. All that traffic. All those people. If I didn't have to wait for a call back from the city inspector (because they still haven't finished my bathroom; it's been 3 months now) nor had to take care of stuff here, I would've probably gone with him elsewhere today.

I'll be honest and say that I'm grateful to have the excuse to stay home today because I'm exhausted. He's an extrovert and bounces back quickly. I don't. I need my "give me a few hours to myself" time. lol. I'll be okay in a couple of hours, I'm sure. I felt bad not going with him on his mini road trip but, seriously, I need to recharge.

That's been my life in the last couple of days: messes from the carpet installation and hanging out with my brother. There's one more thing: this is not the official announcement but I'm toying with the idea of keeping a weekly Spanish-language Catholic podcast. The idea of a podcast has been presented to me by several people over the years but it never seemed like the right move or the right time for me. However, after searching for some podcasts for my mom, I noticed the need for them. Since my Spanish-language blog idea didn't get past the initial posts (I simply spread myself thin during a time when life was too crazy), a podcast seemed like the next logical step.

The yet-to-be-named podcast will follow the same idea as the Spanish-language blog only it will be in audio form so I don't get overwhelmed with too much writing when I return to school in April. There's something about hearing the tone of a person's voice instead of just imagining it in your head that makes a big difference in trying to get certain messages across; there's no guessing or miscommunication. I'm not a fan of my speaking voice -- especially in Spanish because I apparently have no identifiable accent -- but it's something I really want to do. Again, this is not an official announcement until the details get worked out but, God willing, I will have something by sometime next month. This month is all about my brother's visit and trying to get a few loose ends taken care of before I put my time and effort into something else. I'll be praying for guidance between now and then. :)

Anyway, this was just a little (ha!) update from me. Not sure when my mom and/or brother are getting home so I'm going to crank up my favorite tunes and get some work done while I have the house to myself. :D

I hope y'all are having a good start of week!

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Three Deaths Have Taught Me

Earlier this week I found out someone from my past had died at the young age of 31. While I was never romantically involved with him (though I did have a crush on him for a while in my early-mid teens) nor were we ever really friend, I still have great memories of the couple of times I interacted with him. I don't like talking about that part of my life because of all the drama associated with it (read: ex-boyfriend from heck was involved; they knew each other) so I'll leave it at that: a genuinely nice guy from my past whom I have fond memories of. Though the last time I spoke to him was when I was maybe 17 years old, his death hit me harder than I would've ever imagined... and it gave me a jolt back to life, in a way.

Prior to my father's death in 2009, the only death that affected me in a profound way was my paternal grandmother's death in March 2005. My grandmother's death was the first I dealt with loss of a close person. I didn't know how to mourn. I was 19, about to turn 20. I hadn't seen her since my early teens but I still loved her nonetheless. When I found out that she had been asking for me on her deathbed (for both my father and I... and only my father and I), it hit me harder. She wanted me by her side in her final moments and I couldn't be there because she was in Mexico and I was in the middle of Spring semester at Santa Monica College here in Southern California. Dad left as soon as he found out she had little time left and he didn't even get to say "goodbye" in time because she passed away quite quickly. From her death, I was taught the importance of friends  and family during hard times.

The next death that hit me hard was my father's. Those of you who have read this blog long enough may remember the blog posts I've written about it, including one I wrote two weeks after he passed. Some of you might've even read the article that I wrote for Envoy Magazine which I wrote a few months after I had gotten over some of the numbness that followed his death. No death has hit me as hard since his. I'll be honest, having to deal with my father dying has also meant that I've had to learn to deal with anger. A few weeks before he passed and to this day, I have moments in which I can't control my temper. I will physically walk away and let myself cool down because I know how sharp my tongue can be when I'm angry. Those moments may not last long (I can calm down nearly as quickly as I get fired up) nor as they frequent as they used to be, but it's something I'm still working on. I honestly didn't know I was capable of getting that angry until I had to deal with his death. As the time passes (the 7th anniversary of his death is coming up in July), I find it easier to deal with my temper when it flares up. I think I'm averaging about 3-5 minutes in which it's best to leave me alone until I cool off. Again, doesn't happen very often but it's something that I made a goal to work on this year. I even bought the book Overcoming Sinful Anger by Fr. T Morrow to help me out. From my father's death, I learned so many things including the power of forgiveness and of moderating my temper (he had a strong choleric temper and I seem to have inherited a bit of it when I see someone I love being hurt).

The death of this young man from my past reminded me of how fragile life is and how important it is to take care of yourself. I won't go into details about who he was or even his death for obvious reasons (read: privacy issues and not wanting to think about painful memories) but let's just say that his death was sad and possibly preventable. It was a sad ending for someone I thought highly of. It wasn't only me; I don't seem to recall hearing a bad thing about him from any mutual friends. I lost touch with all those people from my past shortly before my reversion (I learned to remove toxic friendships early on) so I don't know much about what was going on with him other than what has been made known to everyone. He had been ill for a while -- something another friend has been dealing with for years as well -- but wasn't doing what was necessary to keep himself healthy. If I needed anything to help me kick into high gear on my own self-care, it was this. I've already been making good progress but I can definitely do more. After hearing about his death, I definitely felt the push to do those things instead of putting it off due to lack of energy and whatever else SAD has been weighing me down with lately. Again, I'm really surprised at how much his death has affected me, especially since I hadn't seen him since I was like 16 and I hadn't talked to him since I was 17, but I think it was hearing about it and remembering how much healthier I was during that time of my life (despite the ex-boyfriend drama), that kicked me back into this "alright, let's do this!" mentality. Also, friendly reminder to myself to not forget to have a Mass said for him since, if memory serves me right, he was also Catholic.

I've experienced the loss of aunts, uncles, and even the death of my niece's daughter (my second eldest brother's first grandchild) but these have been the three deaths that have taught me more. All three have happened at significant times in my life which I think may be why they've all affected me profoundly.

Anyway, I have a couple of things to do today (and my laptop battery is almost at 42% with no plans to charge it until after 8 p.m. in 7.5 hours) so I should go do them. If you could please say a prayer for the soul of this young man (his name was Michael) and his family, please do so.

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dealing with SADness

Sorry for the lack of blog posts in the past couple of days. We've been going through very rough, personal problems as a family (and would greatly appreciate any prayers you can spare) and it's gotten me a bit down. Of course, dealing with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) doesn't help either.

Lately I've been feeling, well, a bit depressed. I finally have my sleeping schedule back to normal but now I'm oversleeping. I've been eating much better lately but I find myself famished just two hours after eating. I don't really want to leave the house or do anything. I get bored easily and my concentration is shot. My anxiety's returned after nearly a year of having virtually no anxiety. I'm crying way too easily. I mean, I am a sensitive gal and all but I don't generally cry as easily as I have lately. After seeing the "On this Day" memories on Facebook I noticed that I had very similar statuses in previous years. "I'm in need of a hug... and tea... and possibly a nap" a status from two years ago read. I could've very easily written that a year ago or even today.

Looking back, I've noticed that I do tend to feel down during this time. Actually, it usually starts around mid to late autumn and goes through late winter. The pattern is there, without a fail. The shorter months of the year end to make me feel gloomy. As soon as the days get longer and the sunshine is more abundant, I seem to bounce back. I don't think it's a mere coincidence. Simply put, I think my body is missing some vitamin D and that's what's making the SAD worse lately, especially with all the rain and how much I've been inside.

If you're wondering how this is affecting my spiritual life: the dryness wants to set in. I'd rather watch TV or do something else than pray. Do I want to feel this way? No, but it's the reality of it. When you're feeling down, you just don't want to do things like pray or even getting out of bed. It doesn't mean that I don't do it... it just takes me a bit longer than usual to get to it. I'm trying though. I went to confession for the first time in a month this weekend. I haven't missed Mass in a couple of weeks. I haven't missed my daily prayers or Rosary, even if it means I'm falling asleep as I do them.

We do get little periods of sunshine in the house throughout the day, when it's not cloudy nor rains. As an experiment to test my "lack of sun is making me feel low" theory, I'm going to try to get up just a bit earlier and head straight for the kitchen and living room, even if it's cold and my bed feels wonderfully inviting. Since the kitchen and living room have east-facing windows, I'm going to open the curtains and blinds as much as I can. When the sunlight streams in through the living room window, I'm going to have tea time picnics in that little area where the sunlight can actually hit my face. I'll have a snack and play some big band music (my happy music). When I'm ready to move onto something else -- whatever it is that I have to do -- I'll do it. In the afternoon when my west-facing bedroom gets the light, I'm going to get some reading or writing (snail mail) in. I'll once again open the curtains and blinds as much as I can and park myself on the couch (yes, I have a couch in my room) and sip some tea while I read or write. I'll do that for a while until I need to do something else.

"Wouldn't it be easier to just go outside?" Yes, it would but the mechanic is dragging his feet when it comes to fixing my car (it was supposed to be done nearly two weeks ago) and I don't live in the safest neighborhood (crime rate seems to be going up) so going out for a walk -- especially by myself -- is not the best option for me right now. When mom has her days off from work, we plan on getting out somewhere... even if we have to take public transportation.

Have I had the easiest time lately? Nope. Like I said at the beginning of the blog post, not only am I dealing with SAD but my mom's been going through a very difficult time. Despite our opposing temperaments, I'm still very close to her so what she's been going through has greatly impacted me. I really don't want to make this about me though. She's the one who is going through the worst of it, all I'm doing is being there for her because it's all I can do.

It hasn't been all bad though. There has been good news lately. After a trip to the ER on Friday night (long story short: painful stomach cramps due to something I had for dinner that night) I found out that my platelets were within normal range as were my white and red blood count. Not sure how that happened in a month's time but it's been wonderful and has helped exclude anemia (which I no longer have!) and platelets as culprits of my fatigue and general malaise.

My attempted at limited time on social media has been going okay. I've done well with just 45 minutes of Twitter and FB on my Chrome browser. I've also purposely cut back my time online by not allowing myself to charge anything during electrical peak hours. Once the laptop and iPod touch have been drained of battery life, that's it until the base hours return. I'm going to get myself a Kindle Paperwhite with the anticipated tax refund so I don't keep draining my iPod touch battery. Baby steps have been working well. The only thing is that I'm finding it harder to limit social media because of how depressed I've felt lately. However, I'm committed to kicking my social media addiction in the virtual tush so it's just something I'm going to have to learn to deal with. Again, baby steps. :D

Anyway, that's the update from Emmyland. It's been a lot of blah times but some steps forward in the addiction and health fronts. I'm sure once I figure out how to deal with the SAD (acronym is apropo, no?) symptoms, things will look a little brighter. Yes, that's the eternal optimist in me talking again. ;)

I hope y'all are doing well! :D

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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Proud to be a Prude, Part Two

Does anyone remember the blog post I wrote over four years ago, in which I said that I was proud to be a prude? If you're wondering if what 26 year-old me wrote is still relevant to current 30 year-old me... well, say "hello" to the title. ;) I'll tell you exactly what prompted me to write this blog post, too: a book that was highly recommended to me.

As I mentioned yesterday, in my quest to spend less time on social media, I've been taking advantage of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL)'s vast collection of audiobooks and eBooks. One of the books -- the first one I started reading this year -- seems to be universally beloved amongst many of my girlfriends so I decided to read it. The book? The Royal We. The verdict? Returned to the LAPL after five read chapters.

I know I'm going to get a lot of judgments for saying this (especially because of my age) but I just don't like reading books or watching shows or movies with sex in them. I'm sorry, I just don't. I made it through the first five chapters of The Royal We before I just couldn't keep ignoring how much of the "hooking up" was mentioned. While it never got explicit, I was just not comfortable reading it. In fact, I've never been comfortable reading or watching anything close to it in general.

Four years ago I wrote that my imagination was wildly vivid and it's still true. I know that once an idea is put into my mind, it's hard to get it out. If I read something, it'll replay in my mind until something else captures my imagination. Books tend to stay with me for a long time after I read them. Having said that, I knew that I don't want to go there with all sex mentioned.

I've been trying to undo the years of the "experimentation and 'self-discovery' is good" propaganda that I was fed from my pre-teens through my early 20s. I mean, I never fully bought it but it was still (repeatedly) taught that things like looking at pornography out of curiosity or self-pleasure was all "normal" and that not doing it was unusual. 13 years of public school and undergraduate education in liberal Los Angeles... you do the math. My parents fought that mentality as much as they could -- even refusing to sign the waiver to let me watch the sex-ed video in health class; I had to leave the classroom when those were played -- opting for my mom's guidance on the subject. For that I'm grateful, but you know kids. The information was going to get to me through classmates anyway. Even though pornography was seen as "no big deal" amongst my peers and even some of my professors at certain schools, I knew it was destructive.

I've seen what pornography does to people with my own eyes. I've witnessed the effects in two people I grew up with, a man and a woman. I'll keep it vague though I have the permission of the woman to share this. The man's addiction was closeted but I knew one of his children still had access to things they should never had seen. His marriage suffered because of his addiction to it. The woman ended up developing an addiction to it in her adult years -- it became easy for her to access it to the internet -- and that addiction spanned for a couple of years. She said it was hard to break but was able to do it when she shunned it and kept God on her mind (she had developed the addiction while away from the Church). Though she successfully overcame it a few years ago, it has scarred her and she still has to be careful not to go anywhere near those things to this day.

All of those books and movies with sex scenes may seem harmless to people but they can very easily manipulate you into thinking that it's no big deal. It's all fiction. It's not real. It's true... but it can become a very real thing. Maybe people will be calling me a prude... too religious... too cautious. Maybe I am all of those things. However, I don't want to put myself in a position that I'll later have to take to the confessional.

It's a slippery slope -- "no big deal" becomes "ohh, I can watch this because I'm strong enough" to viewing things that get more and more graphic. "No, I can definitely remember this is fiction," you may argue. "I'm not weak. I have a strong will that will keep me from developing an addiction." Maybe you can, but many can't. I may be able to differentiate between fiction and reality but I just don't want to risk it. I know myself, I know my mind and my will power, and I know that it's simply not worth it to me to basically tempt myself.

I gladly accept all the judgments that come my way because, in the end, it's my life and it's my comfortable level. Books and other entertainment which I consider a kind of "gateway drug" are just not my cup of tea. I'm not going to judge you if you don't have an issue with these things; everyone has their own limits. As I wrote all those years ago, I'm not against sex. It's a beautiful and healthy thing within a marriage... or so I'm guessing since I'm not married and have not experienced that part of life. lol. Still, even when I do get married, I highly doubt I'll ever be comfortable reading or seeing it. It's just the kind of person that I am.

Authors: c'mon, y'all... you can write a great book without having sex so heavily focused! Why do you think I even became a YA/NA writer (besides my love of writing)? Because I was tired of seeing so much sex in books. Yes, it's the norm with young adults but, newsflash, not all young adults are into books like that. There are some who prefer cleaner book. Shocking, I know.

Anyway, come at me (with those negative comments), bro! lol. I'm done with my little mini rant-like blog post. ;) I'm going to go read another book and hope for better results. lol.

I hope y'all are having a great week thus far!

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Emmy vs. Social Media (2016 Edition)

As some of you may have noticed, I've not been using social media as much in the last couple of days. Part of that was intentional (I'm stocking up on audiobooks and eBooks from the Los Angeles Public library as well as PC games) and the other part wasn't. For the unintentional part, let's just say that my mother needs all the prayers you can send her way. I can't divulge the reason but let's just say that I had a moment of sheer panic yesterday and I'm not sure we're out of the woods yet. Please and thank you.

The intentional part: I really want to avoid using social media because I know how much it's not helped in the past. Writing my end-of-year review last week made me recognize that I have a serious social media addiction. It's bad, y'all. In the past couple of days I've decided that I couldn't keep doing that. Enter: Emmy vs Social Media (2016 Edition). It's not going to be easy but I'm going to definitely try. I've installed the StayFocusd app on my Chrome browser and it's going to shut down Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr if I got over 45 minutes per day. I'm that serious. I may eventually get it down to 10-15 minutes per day. I'll be cutting back the allotted time as I get better at avoiding social media.

Besides the aforementioned distractors (audiobooks, eBooks, PC games), I also have the next 3 months of Netflix paid for (thank you to the parents of my godson for that awesome Christmas present!) for when I want a more visual downtime. The name of the game is: stress-free distractions. I need distractions from social media during my health recovery time that won't cause a great amount of stress. Stress is what's caused me to lose weight and lose hair. (Have I not mentioned the losing hair part? It's unfortunate; hats are my friends these days.) I've decided not to work on my third novel in the meantime because I sometimes get a little too focused on that and I've been known to accidentally skip meals or get little sleep when I'm in "the zone." I can say I won't do that but I know myself know well enough to know I will do it at some point. That would be not advisable when I know I need to eat and sleep better.

Does it make sense to say that I feel like this will be my last chance to be selfish so I'm trying to enjoy this downtime? Before anyone starts on the "typical Millennial mentality" spiel, I'd like to remind y'all that I spent my teens into my mid 20s taking care of my parents, especially my father who had cancer for 7 years before he passed. My mid-to-late 20s were then spent either trying to finish school, working, keeping the household afloat somehow (even if the financial contribution wasn't much), or taking care of my mom who is slowly losing her memory. I definitely don't think I'm entitled to any selfish time but I also don't want to resent all I've given up for my parents in the future (it could happen even though I'm usually pretty easygoing about the situations) so I'm going to make the most of these months.

I don't have much experience doing stuff just for myself. I've had moments here and there but 4 months to just focus on my selfish wants (within reason; I'm still super frugal and responsible) has been interesting less than three weeks into it. Still, I know that I don't want to waste my time on social media. Hence the distractions.

I have plans for doing other things when I get my car back (no, I still haven't gotten a fixed day when I'll get it back though it was supposed to happen last week). I won't say what they are because -- as I've seen from my failed Autumn and Winter bucket lists -- it's just best for me not to plan too far ahead of time. That and what fun will I have sharing new and exciting things if I announce them beforehand? Nope. Twitter, you will no longer get the scoop before I have a chance to blog about it. ;)

Yes, I am now accepting bets to how long this will actually last. lol. What's been my record? A month of limited social media interactions? Challenge accepted. ;)

Alright, well, I have an eBook (The Royal We) that won't read itself and a bowl of brown rice pasta that won't eat itself so I should go do that now. It'll be a sort of late lunch since I woke up slightly late (9:52 a.m.) this morning. :)

I hope y'all are having a great start of year thus far. :D

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Neighbor Just Tried to "Save" Me

You guys... I just got saved for the New Year. (side note: Happy New Year, be-tee-dubs!) Or, I should say, my neighbor just tried to save me because Christ told him that I did not have a personal relationship with Him. Let me try to find the nicest, most charitable words to describe that nearly hour long conversation I just had with him...

This neighbor has been trying to "save" me for months. Anyone remember that "love letter" from Christ earlier last year? The presumptuous one that said I didn't know God, that I didn't know how to pray, and that I needed to know Him better? Same guy. I actually didn't know what he was up to when he knocked on my door because he brought me Panda Express. I thought he had come to bring food out of the kindness of his heart (still true) and to offer me his parking spot since he knew that had problems with mine... but no, he brought me God's word and predictions. No, Emmy... more charitable than that.

I would like to say that I know he and others like him mean well. I know they're filled with God's love and want others to be consumed by that love. I also know that the execution of what they're trying to do sometimes lacks some tact. That's why, instead of being rude, I simply stayed quiet, answered his questions (Catholic power! lol), and was on my very best, polite behavior during his visit. I could've kicked him out of my apartment but he was nice enough to donate to the car fund so I felt like I could at least hear him out. This is what happened next...

He told me that Christ had placed in his mind that he should come talk to me. The reason for that? I don't know Christ well enough. I have no personal relationship with Christ. Neither does my mother. True story because Christ told him so. Sure, I may pray or go to church (or not; I questioned his wording at times because it seemed like he was insinuating that I didn't at times) but I don't know Him well enough. That's why God instructed my neighbor to come talk to me. He also said that my mom was going to agree to go to his church ("I guarantee it," he said) because God told him so. (And if you're wondering, she called him crazy and said that it's best just to smile and nod when crazy people are talking. She doesn't mince her words. Hardcore Catholics up in this house!)

He did sprinkle in some compliments in his nearly hour-long speech. He said that God has chosen me because I'm pure of heart and because I'm a brave young woman whom God wants for Himself. He said that Christ had told him that I'm going to be one of His messengers in spreading His Word. I was going to gain the knowledge I needed to be able to be an evangelist and bring others to Him. To that I answered, in all honesty, "I sure hope so." Because I do. Maybe not in the way my neighbor would like but I would like to bring others closer to God in whichever way He chooses. I also thought "well, good thing I've decided to stick it out in the Biblical Theology program." lol.

Then it got a little weird. First, he told me that the car accident was supposed to be the death of me but that Christ has other plans for me -- to know Him because I don't -- so He saved me from dying. Seriously that "marked for death" speech should've scared me more than it did if I wasn't already aware of the frailty of human life and of how I need to try to live a holier life (and pick myself up when I stumble along the way... which is often) because we never know when our time is up. The words "yeah, I hope to get my car back soon so I can go to confession more regularly" came to mind. Thanks for the reminder, Holy Spirit. No, seriously, thanks for reminding me that it's been weeks since my last confession.

Then he told me that Christ had given him the vision of me up at the altar, playing the piano and singing hymns to Him. I inwardly chuckled and said "well, St. Cecilia is my adopted confirmation saint for a reason..." He seemed to imply that I was also meant to be like a female pastor, predicating the word of God. Yeah, um, no. Sorry. No womyn priests in the Catholic Church and I have no problem with that.

I was then told that I would get visions and dreams from Christ. In fact, Christ was going to talk to me tonight and I needed to keep an ear open. I was going to have out of body experiences and God was going to take my spirit out of my body because He was going to show me places. No, it isn't bad. Sure, it's bad when Buddhists and other religions meditate and have out of body experiences because it's not from God but I shouldn't worry because mine were going to come from God. He also added a personal story about out of body experiences that immediately triggered the "sprinkle holy water up in here because that sounds like it's coming from the evil one" red flag.

He invited me to his church and to have someone else (a woman) from his church come talk to me to my house. I used the excuse that I couldn't make decisions without my mom (because the invitation was extended towards her). Nope, sir, you cannot get me to agree to either of those things and I will use excuses until I can find a nice way of telling you to stop trying. Please, stop trying to make fetch happen. It's not going to happen.

He asked if he could pray for me before he left. I said okay because, seriously, prayer doesn't hurt. He denounced the evil spirits that were making me sick (was not expecting that) and guaranteed that my life was going to change because I'd given my life over to Christ. One small hitch though: I already told God I would do His will instead of mine. A long, long time ago. And I consecrate myself to the Blessed Virgin Mary every single day with this prayer. Oops. I guess the part wasn't mentioned to my neighbor before he came over. Wait, I thought he was getting his messages from Christ? Shouldn't he have known that already is that was the case?

There was more but you get the gist of it. He was not prepared for me to provide a Bible (let alone a Catholic one) when he asked for one. He was also not prepared for me to answer his questions about Psalms either. Yes, I noticed that look of surprise. *whispers* I'm a Biblical Theology student, dude. The one thing I appreciated was that he said that the Catholic Bible had "strong language" than the Christian ones; that ours weren't watered down like the rest. He apparently reads Catholic bibles as well as Christian ones. Good on him!

I did get some things out of our conversation. First, yeah, I really want my car back so I can start going to daily Mass like I've been wanting to do for months. I also need to go to confession because it's been like 3 weeks and I hate going that long without going. I also feel like I've made the right decisions regarding grad school. So that was good. I was never as passionate and proud about Catholic than I was during our conversation (which was really one-sided for most of it). Every time he would say something presumptuous, I would inwardly laugh and go "yeah, I could work on that but you're still so off..." You know that song ♪ I'm proud to be an American... ♪? Yeah, I want to rewrite the lyrics and sing ♪ I'm proud to be a Roman Catholic... ♪ lol. Guess his mission to get me to his church backfired a little bit. Whoops.

He left after I told him I was busy (I was; I was in the middle of cleaning my apartment when he stopped him). Hey, at least I got Panda Express out of the deal, right? Oh wait... I can't eat it because of the wheat, dairy and egg ingredients. I mean, I could probably do wheat in small amounts because the heartburn has gotten better but I don't get my milk allergy results until March. Drat! I really wanted that fortune cookie, too...

Anyway, have any of you had any similar experiences? What have you done? I can already hear my friends saying I was "too nice, Jane (Bennet)" and that I should've kicked him out, but I couldn't. He's so nice and he's mostly harmless. (side note: quick, which book/movie is that from?)

I should get back to cleaning my apartment. No, it's still not finished because I just had to type this out. It was too interesting to not share. ;)

I hope y'all have a great weekend!

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