Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feverish Update

I'm currently sitting on my bed, trying to bring down my fever with cold, damp washcloths and cold tea. Cold tea isn't my favorite but I don't think my body would like hot liquids when I'm already warm. Since my stomach is sensitive and I can't take just any ol' fever reducer because some lower platelets, gotta exhaust the natural stuff first. Also, no doctor's appointments with my doctor until after August 30th. Seriously. I just called a few minutes ago. This is the second fever since Friday's fever but it's the first that's lasted more than 12 hours. Apparently there's a virus going around so I'm not too worried about it -- just gotta stay hydrated and rest as much as I can.

I know some of you are wondering about what's happened since my last blog post. Since then, I've sought the advice of friends who know me well and one theme kept coming back: go down the SLP route. It wasn't until a good friend pointed out something to me that made me decide to return to this path. "Wait, didn't you discard those options before?" I had... again, until I realized one big major thing: I wasn't factoring in how it would affect my mom.

Mom has been super supportive of whatever I want to do. I think she might feel like I've sacrificed too much to help her and Dad (when he was still alive) which is why she's supported my Theology degree path. Yes, even though I've been warned about how little money there is in the field, she's been onboard. I just always figured God would help provide along the way. However, it became increasingly obvious over the weekend that mom isn't going to make it to 65, the retirement age she prefers. She's only about 3 years away from that but I don't see her lasting more than another year or two. After 40+ years of all the manual labor, her body just can't keep going. When she told me that she wanted to get another vacation break (after just having one earlier this month) in September and this time she wanted it to be 2 weeks instead of one because her body was exhausted, I knew I had only one choice: to take a little detour from Theology so that my mom can retire sooner than I can take care of this household with my own paycheck.

I'll admit, I was both disappointed and nervous about returning to the SLP field. Disappointed because I can see that my passion lies in Theology and it just felt like I was supposed to be on that path. Nervous because my anemia popped up during my first stint at Utah State. I lost all that weight and my cell lines were affected. That fear that the same would happen entered my mind and it wouldn't go. Then two things happened: St. Therese taught me a lesson AND a mistaken grade gave me a bit of confidence.

I remembered that St. Therese had to wait a couple of years to enter the Carmelites and how bitterly disappointed she was to have to wait. I'm not saying that her entering the Carmelites and my waiting to continue my Theology degree are comparable but it was a lovely reminder that sometimes we have to wait to do what we feel is God's will for us. She did eventually enter, just like I will (God willing) eventually return to finish the degree. I can offer up the disappointment in the meantime.

Also, it turns out my final grade for my final course at JP Catholic was slightly higher than I had anticipated. Still not high enough to keep my financial aid available (I ended up with 2.97 GPA) but It was completely unexpected but very timely. I actually managed to pull off a decent grade with the anemia that returned during the quarter as well as the lack of study time because the maintenance workers were in and out of the apartment, working on fixing the bathroom. (side note: nope, it's still not done, 8 months after they gutted it). I worked hard and I did it. Maybe I can do the same this second time around. I've finally found a study schedule that works for me and my doctor ordered some folic acid, iron, and vitamin C tablets to help with the anemia. (Thanks to all the blood work she had them do, she saw that my folate level is half of what it should be which is why I can't kick the anemia for long periods of time.)

I applied as a returning student to Utah State yesterday. I left in good standing from both that school and JP Catholic so nothing was going to keep me from having a clean record. I've also had my transcripts sent to Utah State from JP Catholic (even though it was a different subject and degree). Now all I have to do is wait... and pray.

I hope I'm doing the right thing. If it's God's will that I do Theology, I hope He doesn't mind the detour for a year or so to take care of financial matters for Mom and I. If I do get accepted to return, I'm only 8 courses short of my second Bachelor's degree and should be able to graduate early next May. After receiving my degree, I'll do 100 supervised hours at a local university (two courses which will be paid out of pocket... ouch) for 8-10 weeks and then I will be officially licensed to work as an SLPA in the state of CA.

Anyway, that's where I am right now. No longer aimless but just disappointed that I couldn't do my Theology degree first. As I said, not enough experience and/or requirements to work in the archdiocese just yet. :( I simply need to remind myself that this is a sacrifice I need to make for the good of this household... one that I hope to do with joy. I can't be selfish even though I sometimes wish I could be. I am human, after all.

Alright, I'm going to go try to rest. I'm not used to not doing anything so this is going to be harder than it sounds. Seriously, binge watching feels unnatural to me but it may be the only thing that will keep me from moving around and being active when I should be resting and letting my body try to fight off whatever is causing the fever and headache. :)

I hope y'all have had a lovely beginning of week!

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Diary of a (Currently) Aimless Nerd

Subtitle to this post: Just Keep Swimming..

Yesterday was a strange day. I had to withdraw from JP Catholic after believing that I could stay. I had a really weird headache with body chills and a low-grade fever throughout the day (which didn't break, naturally, until around midnight). Apart from the chills and the headache (and slight fatigue), I didn't feel sick. I ate pretty normally. I didn't fall asleep though I definitely rested. Today I woke up feeling as if I hadn't had anything... and I was hungry. Weird 24 hours, my friends.

I woke up early (despite not setting an alarm) and went to confession with Mom. My first time in the confessional in 4 weeks for both of us. You can thank illnesses and lack of a/c in the car (plus really hot weather) for that. I spent some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and asked for guidance. I lit a candle for Mama Mary as well.

After a quick grocery run, I returned home. For most of the afternoon into early evening, I made a pros and cons list for each of my options. I had three (then four) options. I could: 1) get my SLPA certification at a local commu-ity college, 2) return to my alma mater (the dreaded CINO college) for a Master of Science in Education, 3) I could enroll at Steubenville for a Master in Arts in Theology, or)  I could return to Utah State to finish my second Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education. For various outside reasons, SLP/A was ruled out. Main reasons: various alumni agreeing that the woman who ran the program for option 1 was, well... I'll just say I'd rather not put my health at risk there. Option 4? I remembered how heavy the workload was for the program and I don't want my health to take that hit. In the end, 2 and 3 remained my only options... but there are some obstacles for both.

I also looked at job listings for various things -- local archdiocese, several publications (for freelance writing), etc. Nada. Either the job was perfect for me, I met the qualifications, but it was out of state (and I can't relocate at the moment) OR I needed a Master's in either Theology/Religious Studies with teaching certification or a Master's in Education for the local jobs that would've been an okay (repeat: just okay) fit for me.

I feel stuck. I had a clearer vision of what I wanted while I was at JP Catholic. I wanted that degree so I could work with Catholic youth. Whether that meant as a youth minister, as a teacher, or as a DRE in a parish, I didn't know. All I knew is that that is where my heart is; that's where my passion lies. But then... well, we know what happened.

After all the health issues and all the things that have happened, I wonder if I'm just not meant to continue school. My health has been fragile while I'm in school. It first started when I was at Utah State (I became malnourished). I recovered a bit and then headed to JP Catholic. That horrific stomach ache on orientation day should've been a sign. The car accident during my second week of classes should've made me withdraw. But I pushed ahead. I ended up around 109-110 lbs, way underweight for my 5'7"-ish height. During the break from JP Catholic, I wasn't anemic, my platelets, white, and red blood count were normal, AND I was finally my normal weight (first time since I graduated from the CINO college). Return to JP Catholic saw me slightly anemic again with my white and red blood once again low. Platelets still normal as is my weight.

I don't know what to do at this point. Sure, both schools (CINO alma mater and Steubenville) are options but what if I'm just not meant to continue my academic career? Do I want to keep pushing myself and getting more in debt trying to figure that out? I don't think I do. Is that fear talking? Maybe. Also, the obstacles to both are making me seriously rethink things.

Dream job: writing or working with Catholic youth... or both. Like I said, I can do what I'd like with what I have but nowhere near L.A. I wish I could relocate but I can't.

I started a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus yesterday because I'm aimless. I don't know if I'm going to be able to go to any school this August or if I have to wait until January. I don't know if I'm even going to continue anything in academia. I can't find a job I can do with my education/experience/qualifications. If I'm completely honest, I'm feeling a little lost.

I do trust God and I know He'll eventually open a door for me... but I still feel lost at this point in time. I'm not particularly good at waiting, especially with Mom's paycheck being the only one coming in (side note: she lost a day of work per week as well) and my royalty checks being teeny tiny and sporadic. The financial strain, especially in this city, is real. I kind of want to cry but I'm going to try to hold it in and place everything at the feet of Christ because, as the kids say, "I can't even." I'm not strong, but He is.

I wanted/needed to let this all out of my system. I already exhausted all my options (I made sure I researched each option thoroughly) so at this point all I can do is wait and see. Just keep swimming... just keep swimming...

Sorry for such a downer post. Not my intention but this is my journey... and it's not always pretty.

Anyway, I hope y'all are having a better weekend than I. :D

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Nevermind, I am Leaving...

Please disregard the whole "I'm not leaving" post from hours earlier. I've officially withdrawn. Long story short: my financial aid was entirely revoked because of the 3.0 minimum. Without financial aid, I can't pay for my classes. "Wait, didn't you say the 2.7...?" Yep. That's what I thought as well. Financial aid is apparently a different beast. It didn't matter that I received a 2.85 in the Fall because of my car accident and having missed half the quarter. It didn't matter than I received a 3.0 this quarter.

I could technically appeal it but I'm not going to. An alumnus helped me there (seriously). I've made the choice to withdraw and go elsewhere. I didn't get kicked out; I've voluntarily chosen to leave instead of getting a private loan. It wasn't worth it to me. I'm already technically a student elsewhere (I never declined admission last year... oops); it's just a matter of whether I want to attend this other school or go elsewhere and do something else.

Maybe this is why I got sick the day of orientation and only felt better until I physically left. Maybe this is why health obstacles were put in my way. Maybe it's all just a bunch of coincidences. Who knows. All I know is that I'm no longer a JP Catholic student.

I wish them the best of luck. The program is great and the professors are very knowledgeable and I thank them for the past two quarters.

Onto bigger and better things. Verso l'alto!

Alright, I have a fever (I've had it since that headache I mentioned in the last post) and my body is starting to ache so I'm going to rest. Yes, having to leave school AND getting sick on the same day. What a lucky gal I am. lol.

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

I Almost Left Grad School

The past couple of days have been a bit of a crazy whirlwind of confusion, stress, and disappointment for me. Why?, you may be wondering (if you didn't see the Instagram post or get a long email from me). Simple: I almost left JP Catholic's graduate program and I had to come up with my final decision and options in two days (by today). 

Basically, it all boiled down to not having the GPA (or so I thought) to continue in the program. I believe I received an 86% final grade for my course (did well on everything except the essay portion of the final exam which hurt the final grade). Between this B and the 2.85 GPA from the disastrous Fall quarter, I have a 2.92 GPA. The GPA minimum was a 3.0. My brain automatically went "Mayday! Mayday!" 

As soon as I figure out my culminative GPA, I went into planning mode because I sure wasn't going to sit around and feel sorry for myself. While I waited for confirmation about having to leave the program, I looked into different things. I looked at the nearby school that has a Speech-Language Pathology program, having the option to finish the state requirements to start working as an SLPA (Speech-Language Pathology Assistant). I do have classes (in which I did well) under my belt from my time at Utah State. I also remembered that I had options to do my Theology degree elsewhere but, honestly, I wasn't super thrilled about any of the other programs (that I could do online). 

I kept trying to remind myself that I was sure that Theology was the path God wanted me to take but doubt momentarily crept into my mind. "What if I discerned my career path wrong? What if this was just so that I could get the Theology bug out of my system? What if this was just so I could grow spiritually?" I looked at jobs I can do in the Archdiocese with my BA degree and my work experience. A few came up but nothing that I was sure was a right fit for me. I looked at jobs out of state. Some were exactly what I wanted to do but then I remembered that my savings have been depleted and I have responsibilities in L.A. so no go.

I finally got word that the minimum GPA to stay in the program was lowered to a 2.7 as of this Spring so I could stay. My scholarship would be decreased by 20% but that wasn't a big deal for me. Though I could stay, I then wondered if I wanted to stay. While my professor is brilliant and I enjoy his classes, I've traditionally done poorly on the essay portion of his final exams. Sure, I do well on everything else but I tank on the essays in the final exams. "What if I can't get a good enough grade to keep the 2.7 minimum? What if I can't 'get' what the professor wants in the final exam?" Oh, "What Ifs...", my old anxiety-inducing friend. Nope, I wasn't going to go down that rabbit hole.

I reached out to those whom I trust and told them what happened. I needed prayer. I needed to figure out what to do. Some encouraged me to return to the SLP field. Others just listened and said they'd pray for me. One friend told me to get in touch with my professor and talk to him about what he's looking for on the final exam. Another encouraged me to stick it out for one more quarter before leaving (if I still wanted to leave). I still haven't heard back from my professor but I hope he does get back to me before the next quarter (which begins on Monday) is in its second week.

What it came down to was choosing what I feel God is calling me to do. I was honest with myself -- if I did SLP, I would mostly be doing it for the financial stability more than anything. Yes, it would help people out and I loved working with the kids when I did on-site/field hours but passion and my heart are in the Theology field. That much was pointed out by at least two people; it's clear that I'm in my element when it comes to Theology. All the "what ifs" started getting answered. "What if... I couldn't find a decent job in L.A. once I graduate?" I'll move. "What if... I bomb out and then owe the government even more money for the three quarters I spent at JP Catholic?" I'll find a job and pay it back somehow. "What if... the money isn't enough since the field is so hard to get into and doesn't pay that well?" God will provide somehow.

I feel a peace about the path I'm on but I did have some doubts while things were in limbo. I need to remember to trust God, even when things are momentarily topsy turvy. I still feel like this is what I'm meant to be doing so I'm going to continue. If my GPA isn't that stellar and I have to leave, well, I'll deal with that if it happens. I've already taken proactive steps into improving as a student (reaching out to my professor; being on top of my work) and improving my health (doctor prescribed iron pills, folic acid, and vitamin C to help with my anemia and dismal folate level). All I can do now is pray and work hard and see what happens in the future.

Anyway, just sharing this part of my journey. It's not always glamorous or fun but stuff like this happens. 

I'm currently experiencing a pretty blah headache (possibly a migraine) so I'm going to rest for a little while before I have to go pick up Mom from work.

I hope everyone has been doing well!

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Prayer: Patience and Understanding

When I first tried praying it was entirely selfish. I prayed to get what I wanted... or thought I needed. Did I need a majority of what I prayed for? Nope. One of the last times I prayed in my teens, I prayed that my ex-boyfriend and I would work out our differences and that we'd stay together. I was kind of miffed when it didn't happen. In fact, we ended up breaking up only a week after I prayed. I didn't understand why my prayers hadn't been answered. Wasn't that how prayer worked?, I asked myself. It wasn't until much later that I realized that the break-up was a blessing; to this day he remains the most manipulative and dishonest boyfriend I've ever had.

Fast forward several years later. As I grew spiritually, I learned that sometimes our prayers don't get answered because it's not God's will for us; that He has something better in store. It wasn't overnight. Some of my reversion prayers included a lot of bargaining (big no-no!) so I'd get what I wanted. Eventually I began accepting that I could ask for something but that it wouldn't always be answered. I accepted it and tried to see the positive in unanswered prayers. My default is usually "well, I don't understand it but God knows what He's doing so I trust in Him."

It's really hard to see friends and family struggle with this. No matter how many times you try to explain things, and no matter how many times they say they understanding it, intellectually, they can still feel like God is ignoring them and their "needs" (usually wants).

Lately I had to see someone I'm incredibly close with go through this. Their prayer life and relationship with God was suffering because their prayers were going unanswered. I could see God doing so many wonderful things in their life but they refused to see it; all they could see is how they wanted something and they weren't getting it. I talked to them several times. "I get it in my mind... but I don't get it in my heart" was the usual response. Many prayers and novenas were prayed for them, asking for the gift of understanding for them; that their relationship with God not suffer.

In the past couple of days, God has slowly been revealing His reasons for not answering the prayers intentions the person had. This person now saw that prayer intention one was not answered like they wanted because there was something better planned for them. Prayer intention two was finally answered this week, after a long time (several months) of struggling with understanding why God hadn't answered it. "Now I get it," was what the person told me last night. I hope their relationship with God strengthens and their spiritual life grows after going through this.

Why am I sharing this? Because a) I know how hard it is to want to give up on prayer when we don't get what we think we need (but it's usually what we want and don't actually need) and b) because it's not always easy to help those who are struggling with this issue. Maybe the issue with the person isn't an unanswered prayer but a Church teaching. What I hope at least one person gets out of this blog post is that God is always listening; don't give up just because things aren't done how you want it and/or when you want it.

If your prayer isn't getting answered, it doesn't mean He's not listening. It may mean He has something better in store for you. Maybe it will get answered further down the line but you need to learn and/or grow before it can be answered. As for that person in your life who is struggling with it? Talk to them. If they can't "get it" remind them (when they bring up the subject, of course) that He's listening but answers sometimes take time. If it seems nothing is getting through, pray for them. Unceasingly. Sometimes praying for them -- for their patience, understanding, and struggles -- is exactly what they need. Even if you don't tell them you're praying for them, do it. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone's relationship with God suffering or getting close to becoming irreparable because of something like this.

Anywho, that's it for now. It's not as hot as it was yesterday (112 degrees F!) but I enjoyed my time away from the internet so I'm going to go read some books and stay cool (in my a/c cooled living room). Sorry, internet. ;)

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Thirst for the Eucharist

I haven't attended Mass or gone to confession is three weeks. Three. It's not that I haven't wanted to go. I've been sick (ranging from digestive issues to dizziness and in between) and/or haven't been able to drive to Mass because of the heat. (side note for you new readers: I have a hereditary sensitivity to the heat and will get close to fainting in temperatures over 84 if I'm not in the shade with water or in an air conditioned place. My car hasn't had working air conditioning since my car accident last October.)

I miss going to Mass. I miss going to confession. I even miss feeling physically close to my home parish. It doesn't help that I've had a slew of temptations thrown my way, some of which I didn't think I'd have deal with. It was a nice reminder that I'm not as strong as I thought I was and that I'm susceptible to unexpected (to me) yet very human weaknesses. No, I need God. Very badly.

I hadn't read yesterday's Mass readings before I emailed one of my best friends, telling him that I felt as if my soul thirsted for God. Sounds dramatic but that's how it's felt lately. The longer I am kept from attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, the more my soul desires it. Nothing and no one can satisfy it. Nothing and no one appeals to me more than receiving the Eucharist these days.

It occasionally feels like a physical emptiness, like a gaping hole in the middle of my chest. It's almost like a spiritual drought, except I've felt very close to God in the last week or so. Maybe it's because I haven't been able to physically receive Him that I've felt this way; maybe I feel close to Him because He wants to remind me that He's still here, even when I struggling with temptations and have yet to go to confession. Perhaps this is why St. Catherine of Siena (patroness against temptations) has been in my life more than usual lately. Yes, I just put two and two together there; I didn't even realize it until I wrote it out.

I continue to mess up in little ways, most of the time without intention. My struggle with scrupulosity (yes, I have been known to occasionally struggle with this as well) will make me beat myself up over a couple of things. I'm grateful that my best friends will bring me back to reality and remind me that no one is perfect and even saints had to deal with certain things. Still, I have moments in which I go "oh, God... I try hard but I just can't do this." I need His help more often than not.

I feel like my relationship with His is growing due to everything that's been going on lately... yet I feel awful for missing Mass and for having little life hiccups along the way. I guess I need to remind myself to trust in Him and His mercy more often. I sometimes fear being justly punished more than remembering that the Sacrament of Reconciliation exists for a reason.

Anyway, these are just some of the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my mind lately. I'm not entire sure why I shared this other than I was just inspired to. I hope someone can get something out of it. :)

Alright, it's almost the end of electricity base hours and we want to conserve energy since it's going to be at least 110 degrees F in L.A. today so I should skedaddle. Please say a prayer for me if you can and please feel free to send me your prayer requests as well. :D

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fatherless Father's Day

Every year there are three bittersweet days for me: my father's birthday (March 22nd), the day of his death (July 11th; coincidentally also St. Benedict of Nursia's feast day, patron of the dying), and Father's Day. Sweet because I'm reminding of the father I had and bitter because he's no longer here.

I can't tell you how annoyed I get when stores begin to send me their "Get your father the best gift..." emails. I want to reply "My father died years ago; please stop reminding me." I don't but I certainly think it with every email I get. Best Buy is especially annoying when it comes to that, by the way. I think I received no less than 5 emails about it over the last week or two.

It's so easy to dwell on the pain of no longer having my father here with me. Yes, even though he's been gone for almost 7 years now (7 years in a couple of weeks), it's not easy and it never will be. Though the pain is not as raw as it was years ago, I still miss him terribly. I don't think anyone ever fully "recovers" from their parents' deaths but we can be at peace knowing they're in a better place. My faith has helped me be and stay at peace even during particularly difficult moments.

Though things are hard, I've chosen not to dwell on them. Instead, I give thanks to God for having given me a wonderful father for the first 24 years of my life. I'm thankful that my father (who was notorious for forgetting my birthday every year) returned to the Church the day before my 24th birthday (his birthday gift to me), confessing to a priest and then receiving the Eucharist after being away from the Church for over 40 years. I'm also thankful that, the day before his death (almost exactly 24 hours before), a different kind of Father (a priest) came to administer the Last Rites to my father.

I choose to be thankful for all the men in my life who have been there for me since my father's death. First of all, shout out to God who is my heavenly Father and keeps loving and guiding this imperfect daughter of His. I'm grateful for my "big brother" (an older cousin who is like a brother to me), Pedro, who stepped up and became the "man of the house" in the years following my father's death until Mom and I were able to stand on our own. Seeing him with his own kids reminds me that there are good loving fathers out there. For my friends who became "uncles" and "big brothers" to me (and who have families of their own), who checked in on me (and still do), who've help guide me and have given me guy advice over the guys, I can't thank enough. And, last but certainly not least, to the Fathers (priests) whose guidance has helped both my mother and I grow spiritually in the last couple of years.

Even though I don't have my earthly father living anymore, I'm going to keep celebrating the other men in my life -- family members, those who are like family, my friends who are raising their children up beautiful, my priest friends (and priests in general). I'm going to pray for those who are hurting (those who've lost their fathers like I have), those who never knew their fathers, those who are fathers and are loving fathers to their children, and those who are fathers but don't know how to be fathers to their children's lives for whatever reason. I'm also going to pray for my future husband, that God helps him become the kind of father our future children need.

Maybe I should rethink the title as it seems that I won't have a fatherless Father's Day after all; not with all the wonderful father figures in my life. :)

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the day. To all my readers who are fathers (either biologically or spiritually), thank you for all the hard work and sacrifices you do for your children. I hope you have a lovely Father's Day tomorrow. :D

I hope y'all (men and women) have a great weekend. :D

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Freedom!!... Sort Of.

Hello everyone! No, I didn't forget about y'all. Yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to write but couldn't. Why? Final project (a 3-week Bible study on the Davidic kingdom covenant), lots of reading, a couple of weekly exams, and then the final exam, which I literally finished 8-9 minutes before it was due last night. Basically, if I could study instead of doing something else, I chose to study. That means I had to decline on a couple of outings, I didn't do much reading for fun, and I was basically glued to the kitchen chair (I study best at the kitchen table). Now I understand why people would tell me that I would no longer have a life once I started grad school. Still, I am done for the next two weeks... sort of.

While I do have a two week break between the end of the Spring quarter (yesterday) and the beginning of the Summer quarter (June 27th), I have a lot of reading to do to prepare for the class. I think it's almost 100 pages or so before then? I already purchased all the books I'll need and I'm going to tackle the readings... next week. I just want to have this week to catch up on sleep and maybe watch some of my favorite Hallmark movies on Feeln. Did I mention I was warned that grad school would mean I'd kiss my free time goodbye? lol.

Even though I don't have much of a break between quarters (the longest is about 3 or 4 weeks in the winter), I've found the program to be very rewarding. My spiritual life has grown in ways I never anticipated. Yes, the program is intense and rigorous; it's not for the faint of heart. They want us to know these things like the back of our hands, which means a lot of reading, a lot of memorizing, and a lot of hard work. I have to get started on paper/projects weeks before they are due. I have to stay on top of the assigned readings, the lecture videos, and the quizzes every week or else I'm doomed. The comprehensible exams at the end are still slightly panic inducing.

Last night, before I took my final exam, I had this moment where I had a mini breakdown in confidence. "What am I doing in this program? I can't do this! Stupid anemia makes it hard for me to remember anything. How am I going to remember anything from weeks ago when I could barely remember when I took those quizzes that same week (or the week after)?!" I quickly looked up the website of the local school that offers an 18-month program to get me back into the SLP field; I was that discouraged. Then I remembered that this was most likely some sort of spiritual attack. I'd been fine before it. In fact, I had never been so sure that this was the path God wants me to take... up until the final exam. Not even the 10 total hours of revision and exam-taking helped.

I had a conversation with God half an hour before I took the exam. I broke down in tears as I said, "I can't do this, God. I can't remember these things. I tried. I tried my hardest and I can't remember most of what I studied. This anemia is just kicking me down. I slept almost 10 hours today and yesterday. I'm exhausted. I can't concentrate. I can't remember. I need Your help. I'm weak but You aren't. You're going to have to do this for me because I just... I can't. I can't do this by myself. If this is the path You want me to take, You're going to have to help me out. If I don't pass this exam... I'll look at something else. Please help me."

I prayed the prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino. I asked the Holy Spirit and the Sacred Head of Jesus to enlighten my mind. I also bugged the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope St. John Paul II (my school's patron saint), Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Catherine of Siena, and any saints that could intercede for me. I did better than expected on the multiple choice portion of the exam. I have no idea on how I did on the essay portion of the exam -- the hardest part of the exam. I tried. I did my best. Now to wait and see what my final grade will be. After the disaster that was the Fall quarter, I'm admittedly a little nervous because a low grade will disqualify me from the program.

As someone who has struggled with academic pride in the past, last night was a wonderful lesson in humility and a reminder that I can't do things without the help of God. I'm not Superwoman. I'm weak. I need God to help me often. I still have a long way to go in the humility department; something I think many of us will struggle with in one form or another for most of our lives since pride is such an easy sin to fall into. Thankfully, God reminded me that He's there for me when I feel beaten down. I can do all things through Him... and He'll be there when I feel like I can't go further.

Okay, I'm going to keep rambling on so I'm going to stop here. lol.

I hope to write daily (or almost daily) during my break. We'll see how many topics my little fried brain can come up with. lol.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to finish a book I checked out nearly 3 weeks ago and is due at the library in about 2-3 days.  I'm about 54% done with it. Hashtag: challenge accepted. ;)

I hope y'all have been well and are having a great week thus far. :D

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

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I Began Reverting to the Faith a Decade Ago This Month

Mom found an old box with receipts from a decade ago. This wouldn't seem like a big deal -- we all hold onto receipts for a long time -- but it's quite significant for me because the box contains all the doctors and hospital bills I racked up in 2006-2007. The bulk of it was from the summer of 2006 when they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I still remember it vividly...

Shortly after I turned 21 -- and around the time the 2006 World Cup (in Germany) started -- I began getting seriously sick. I would faint while taking showers. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was constantly nauseous. I had little appetite. I felt like I was going to have heart attacks randomly. I would "black out" (literally see black wash over my eyes) at random times. Blood work always came back fine. I would occasionally be slightly dehydrated but nothing to worry about it. "If she continues like this, she's not going to make it too long," I heard someone tell my parents. 

In those days, no one thought it was severe anxiety and PTSD. In fact, PTSD wasn't diagnosed until several years later. The doctors didn't even consider severe anxiety as a possible diagnosis. No one thought it was because the friends I had were mentally and emotionally abusing me. I didn't realize it myself. After a stint in the hospital (I spent 3 out of 5 days in a single week in and out of the hospital), the girls kept calling and harassing me. My parents were livid to say the least. It wasn't until my mother ordered that my social media accounts (in those days: Facebook and Myspace) be shut down and I cut off everyone (EVERYONE) from my life that things began to improve... but it took months. 

Spoiler alert: if you've read the first Will and Lina novel, this was one of the few things that I personally experienced that I wrote into the book for one of the characters. Candace was based on several of the girls that caused problems for me.

In the meantime, in June 2006, I began praying to St. Jude, the patron of difficult cases. My mom mentioned him. I was up for trying anything at that point. I wasn't remotely religious despite being a "cradle Catholic." I wanted to get well. I wanted them to figure out what was going on with me. I bargained (newbie mistake), if I got better, I'd stay in Los Angeles for school rather than leave for England like it was planned. Though I'd set my heart on Bath Spa University (yes, that's the actual name of it), I would stay put. Bargaining due to being poorly catechized, folks. Whatever. I began to see results. I started getting better. Not only that, my curiosity was intrigued. "You mean prayer works?" The seeds were planted. It was slow but by late September 2006 I'd fully embraced my faith and "officially" returned.

There some things from a decade ago that I want to regain. I feel like I've become overly cautious and serious. I wasn't always like this. I used to be described as "bubbly" and was just slightly more sociable (though always more introverted than extroverted) but I lost that after what I went through with the girls. This is something I've been working on in recent months and will continue to work on. These girls no longer have any power over me and I want to get back those aspects of myself that I miss. Still, I wouldn't trade it for what I've learned. In a weird way, I'm grateful for everything that happened because it's led me to where I am. I like the person I've become. 

I'm happy to say that my reversion back to the faith began 10 years ago this week(ish); definitely this month. I thank God for the journey, even though it's been an incredibly difficult 10 years with my health issues, the death of my father, and all the other stuff that's happened. If my mom hadn't mentioned St. Jude to me one of those nights we were in the E.R. and I hadn't began praying, I'm fairly positive I wouldn't have been here, blogging about this.

Anyway, that's it for now. I just wanted to share this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to destroying all those ugly memories of the girls who tormented me and the hospital stays I had a decade ago. ;)

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