Monday, August 28, 2017

A New Chapter and a Low Tech Experiment

Today I embarked on a new chapter in my life... and I'm already stressed out. Yay. lol. Within 5 minutes of waking up, I had to make a big decision that would affect this new chapter. I literally jumped out of bed and ran to get my laptop and made the changes that needed to be made before getting back to the person who was awaiting my decision. Oops, there went my plans to start my day without technology. But, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

Let's rewind to this weekend. Knowing that my vacation and leisure time was officially over, I started thinking of possible changes to help me tackle a big problem: my dismal attention span and concentration skills. During a little break, I did something I normally don't do: I went on YouTube to see what I could find to pass some time. Yes, I know, I know, it's a time-sucking black hole... but I needed something to help de-stress me for a couple of minutes. A video by Jordan Taylor (of Blimey Cow) popped up and I thought "hmm, this one sounds interesting." This was that video:

As I watched it I kept nodding and saying "Yes, Jordan. Me, too! Yes. This!"

You guys know I struggle with moderation when it comes to technology. The addiction is real. I've seriously curved my social media usage from where it was last year but I still have a lot to work on. After watching this video, I made the decision to take a page out of Jordan's book and disconnect even more.

I can definitely go a long time without looking at my phone. If I'm busy enough or if I'm interested enough in something that it captures all my attention, my phone can be lost for days and I wouldn't know it. In fact, I have accidentally misplaced my phone and gone hours (and even a couple of days) where I don't even notice until I need it for something (a phone call) more than once. Once, my phone ended up in Dad's old car when my brother took it up to his house an hour north and I didn't even get it back until like a day or two later... and it wasn't missed. lol. How about last week when some of you (whom I communicate with offline) waited up to a week for me to respond to text messages? Um, oops. Sorry! Sadly, this isn't always the case and when I get bored, I glue myself to whatever I can to pass the time.

I'm going to need a lot of mental concentration on this new chapter. A lot. Way more than I'm currently capable of because I instinctively reach for my phone and/or iPod touch or jump from one website to another on the laptop about every 3 minutes or so. I don't have diagnosed ADD or ADHD but my attention span is like that of Dug's from Up! ("Squirrel!"). It never used to be this bad but it's gotten to the point where I think this may be contributing to the lightheadedness I've been experiencing lately.

My phone is now banned from my bedroom and office. It's going to stay in the living room unless I'm going out. When I go out, it stays in my bag or pocket unless I need it. I'm going to turn "do not disturb" on when I'm working and the only person who will be able to reach me (excluded from the "do not disturb" list) is my mother when she's working and needs something urgently. (side note: cell phone usage is banned at the hospital where she works so she only calls when it's unavoidable).

I have not had any social media apps on my phone (save for Instagram) for almost 2 years now but I'm still logged in via the mobile browser. I'm going to log out of those and I will try very, very hard not to log in until all my work is done for the day if I'm out or not until I get back on my laptop for a break when I'm home.

What does this mean for those trying to reach me ASAP? Please don't hate me but it's going to have to wait until I have my breaks... and I'm not going to check during every single break either. Unless you've told me ahead of time that you're going to need me at a specific time (and/or place), nothing will be checked until I'm done. I have to eat and do normal human things that will help me function properly so I will check emails and messages during that time... but only for like 5 minutes... after I'm done eating.

This week I'm using Infomagical to help me work on bettering my focus. Have I mentioned that I really need my full focus on what I'm working on? Because I do. I wouldn't have made such drastic (for me) decisions if I knew I could balance the two. Today's challenge is doing one thing at a time. It's proving to be a lot harder than I thought (say hello to the former champion of the multitaskers) but I need to do this. Even as I type this out, no music is playing in the background. I'm going to do one thing at a time -- giving all my focus and attention to it -- until it becomes a habit. After I type this up, I'm going to see what I can make myself to eat (so hungry; didn't have the time to eat lunch, it's been so hectic today). When I do it, I'm going to focus only on that. No music. No TV. No phone.

When I'm home, I'm going to use a physical clue (just not sure what yet) for Mom to know when I'm busy and absolutely cannot be disturbed (unless it's an emergency) when I'm in my office. I love my mom but she's well known for interrupting at the most inopportune times... though not intentionally. For those whom I talk to online throughout the day, I'll let you guys know what system I'm going to implement to let you guys know when I have a chance to chat.

I wish I could take a break from my laptop for days but, sadly, nearly all of my work will require the use of it. I'll have to figure out how to do what needs to be done on it without getting too much temptation to log in to social media, to check my emails, or put Pandora on (now that I've kissed Spotify goodbye).

I've already replaced my Wunderlist app with a physical planner to use every day. I'm going to get on Amazon later (after I finish what I need to do; electricity went out for a while earlier today so I'm waiting for peak hours to end) and find an analog clock to use instead of my iPod touch for my alarm. I already know I will have a lot of short music breaks in my future because, if today is any indication of what I'm going to be dealing with, I'm going to need to de-stress as much and often as possible to maintain my sanity. I have other low tech changes I'll do but I'll save that for another day.

Not sure how often I'll blog in the next week or two (while I get used to the new routine for the new adventure and the low tech experiment) but at least y'all will know why! Of course, you guys know that I will continue praying for y'all during this time (especially those of you in Texas).

OH! If you're wondering what the new adventure/chapter is... if you already know, you know. Very few people know what I'm talking about and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you will know once I've completed it. This is something I'm very excited to do (answer to my small-v vocation prayers) but I also want to surprise people so... mums the word for now. Don't worry, I'll fill you guys in... when I can. ;)

Anyway, just wanted to write this so that someone can hold me accountable to my new plans. It won't be easy but goodness knows I need to do this.

And now, to eat because I'm mighty hungry.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and have a great week.

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Do You See the Reflection of the Lord When You Look at Me?"

I have very vivid dreams. Those of you who've been reading this blog for years know that since I've shared quite a few over the years. Some are saint dreams. Some are dreams in which I talk to our Blessed Mother. In one, our Blessed Mother lifted me up (like a child) to hug her Son who was hanging on the Cross. I even had one about the end of the world. (Seriously, just search "dreams" on the blog and they'll come up.) The one I had this morning wasn't much different except that it's stayed with me.

Long story short, I was hearing a popular Catholic speaker giving their speech about... I don't remember what. All I remember was that, while I agreed with them on the subject, I was struck at how there was something wanting about the discourse. At the end (and before I woke up), I remember that I looked at them and said something along the lines of "... but do you see the reflection of the Lord when you look at me?"

The words were clearer when I woke up a couple of hours ago but the message has stayed with me: "Do you see the reflection of the Lord when you look at me?" It made me think about my own actions since I cannot speak for those who are more visible in the Catholic world.

I've been very blessed to meet a lot of great Catholic folks through this blog and social media, some offline. I've also been blessed to have been given the support by other well-known Catholics to make a little blip on the radar as a writer. I'm still a little nobody in the Catholic world (which works out for me because I'm a private person and because I don't have a thick enough skin to evangelize like others do) but I've been thinking about how my words and actions might reflect on others with whom I interact with on a daily/regular basis.

When I speak to them, do they see the reflection of the Lord? Can they notice His love and mercy... or do they see something else; something that makes them think I'm another religious hypocrite who says one thing and then does another? Do you ever think about that; about how you may be coming across to others who encounter you? I rarely did but I think I will make a conscious effort to be more mindful of my thoughts and my words.

I'm sure this dream was prompted by my reading of the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and (especially) How to be Happy, How to be Holy by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan. How to Be Happy... has been blowing my mind in terms of how I pray and how I think about the faith in general so I'm not surprised I had the dream I had.

Anyway, just some random thoughts I wanted to share with y'all. :)

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

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Should Be Angry But I'm Grateful

Before I start: happy feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary! I love focusing on this (Mama Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth) when doing the Glorious mysteries and I will do this extra mystery when I pray my Rosary tonight. Also, happy belated feast of Our Lady of Knock (which was yesterday). I did remember and I wanted to mention it on social media yesterday (Hibernophile in the house!) but I had so much going on that I didn't get the chance.

I've been incredibly overwhelmed in the past week. It's been a rollercoaster of wonderful moments and of low moments that could have become very discouraging but ended up bringing me closer to God. It would be too much to cover in a single post so here's the biggest part of it.

Last Saturday, I went to urgent care for my dizziness since I spent 3 consecutive days dizzier than I was used to. It was supposed to be quick trip since it takes forever and a day to get an appointment with my regular doctor but because of my history of low platelets (and considering that I'd had a lot of headaches over the past month), they wheeled me (I was so dizzy I couldn't walk properly) to the emergency room.

There, doctors first looked at my platelets and iron levels since those could easily be culprits of the dizziness and lightheadedness I've experienced for weeks. My platelets had taken another dip down but were still over the 100k level and it wasn't the lowest I've ever had them so they didn't think it was the cause. Since I had no other worrying symptoms, they discharged me.

Yesterday I had my (now) regular hematology appointment. It was a new doctor. I had low blood pressure yesterday (which can explain the constant lightheadedness) but she explained that my records show that it's normal for me to have low (but not dangerously low) blood pressure; that she herself has them around the same levels. I received the news that my iron and hemoglobin levels (and, basically, everything) were steady and I've been anemia-free for a couple of months now... but the fact that the platelets dipped for the 2-3 time this year wasn't sitting well with her.

They can't figure out why my platelets have been low for years. For a while, they considered that it was due to my folate and iron levels but those seem to have stayed within the normal range (I get the exact numbers in half an hour of when I'm writing them) so they ruled those out. I don't get sick often (as in colds or the flu; I can go years without a cold). I've never had surgery. I don't bleed easily or much when I get cuts or even when I go to the dentist. I continue to be a medical mystery to them for now... but that may change.

The doctor saw how exhausted I was yesterday; you just had to look at my face. You can't fake the fatigue I was feeling. 1) I'm not an actress (my face would easily give me away if I were lying) and 2) my conscience would eat at me if I had lied about that. I told her about when the fatigue hits the hardest, including after the consumption of wheat. She asked me to list all the symptoms I get when I eat wheat. She asked me if I had the same reaction with other carbohydrates (rice, tortillas, etc) and when I said I didn't, she zeroed in on gluten as a possible cause for my lowered platelets.

You know how I've blogged about gluten/celiac blood tests coming back negative in the past? Guess what... the doctors had either lied or they were overruled in the past because it had never been done! I had several doctors say that they were going to test it but they never did. I'm not sure if it was because they were resident doctors and their supervisors overruled the decisions, if the hospital didn't want to administer it until I saw a hematologist and my platelets continued to lower, or if I was simply lied to because they thought I was a hypochondriac with a history of anxiety but, whatever the reason was, it was never administered. They did do other autoimmune tests that came back negative (which is what I think they told was negative when I asked) but never for celiac.

I should be angry about it. I've been telling them for years that I've had a suspicion that my health issues (namely, the platelets) might've been caused by gluten. I noticed that my platelets went up when I went on an entirely gluten-free diet (and I even abstained from receiving the Eucharist for 6-months at one point) and how they go down when I reintroduced wheat into my diet. For whatever reason, nothing was done... until now. Again, I should be angry but I'm not.

I'm grateful that a doctor finally got past whatever loops had to be jumped to get me the tissue transglutaminase IgA test. I'm grateful that God gave me the strength and the courage to drive to the hospital (despite being as fatigued and lightheaded as I felt). I'm hopeful (and, honestly, also a little fearful) that this test may give us the answers we (Mom and I) have been waiting literally years for.

Having a positive celiac intolerance result would mean tweaking my diet even more which scares me in the sense that it would restrict my already restricted diet (can't have dairy, eggs, spinach, and some fish). It will also mean being more pro-active about my spiritual life because I would need to talk to the priests where I usually attend Mass about receiving a low-gluten host which is Vatican approved and which many people with celiac have been able to receive without a problem.

I've been praying about my health for years... since I was an undergrad at the CINO college when I first became aware of my platelets being lower than normal. I've resigned myself to enduring all the health issues for as long as necessary as long as it was God's will. I know that I'm going through all of this for a reason unbeknownst to me but which will be for the benefit of my soul.

At the same time, I've prayed that I get healthy so that I can live out what I believe to be my vocation in a manner that would not be burdensome on anyone else. Even if it takes longer (at least 3 months since I won't get my results for this test until November 20th), I know that it's all part of God's greater plans for me and I just need to accept that with as much patience, grace, and courage as needed... which I know God will give me.

I have so much more to say but I think this is enough for this post. The other isn't health-related so I'll save that for tomorrow or the next day, whenever I am able to. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for their continued prayers. I know that it's because of them that I haven't defaulted into the worried, panic-attack stricken gal I once used to be. :)

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Lent of St. Michael Begins Tomorrow

© Pedro A. Guerrero (aka my big brother).
Has anyone heard of the Lent of St. Michael which begins tomorrow (on the Assumption) and ends of the feast of St. Michael Archangel? I hadn't until today when a long-time online friend (who inspires major mama and vocation goals) said she was going to partake in it. As I am a very curious person, I asked her what it was about and she sent me this link.

For the tl;dr crowd: the gist is that this devotion was started by St. Francis of Assisi since he had a special devotion to both Our Lady and St. Michael Archangel. Since there are 40 days (excluding Sundays) between the feast of the Assumption and Sr. Michael's feast, it became like a second Lent. Just like the regular Lenten time, you pray and fast, only this time you do it in honor of Our Lady and St. Michael. During this time you "... are made mindful of the facts of our own resurrection on the Last Day and also of our subsequent Judgment" since St. Michael will be the one who will awaken the dead on the Last Day (Judgment Day).

As I am personally going through some confusing times and am trying to get my spiritual life back on track, I think this will be good for me. I don't know what I'm going to "fast" from quite yet but I still have a couple of hours to think about it. With the state of this country (and, really, the world in general) perhaps some of you will also be interested in partaking in this.

Anyway, just a heads up for y'all. Please let me know if you're going to do it as well. It wouldn't hurt, especially if you feel as if you need a "second chance" like I do.

I have less than two weeks to finish my novel and I still have to flesh it out a bit so... back to work!

I hope you're all having a lovely start of the week!

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Will the "Catholic Twitter" Comments Please Stop?

As some of you (who are following me on Twitter) know, I decided to take a break from that social media website earlier this week. It's not the first time I've done it and it'll most likely not be the last. Right now, I can't see myself returning for a couple of weeks because 1) I have a deadline coming up and 2) I'm starting a new chapter in my vocation (career) so I gotta focus on that. Okay, real talk: I wouldn't have taken the break even with what's coming up if I hadn't grown tired of all the bickering and the "Catholic Twitter" drama that's been going on for weeks.

Admittedly, I don't log into Twitter as often as I have in the past but the little that I did experience in the last few weeks made me want to shut down my account and forget about ever visiting the site again. I wanted to keep up the use of saint quotes and more positive tweets but I just became too overwhelmed... especially when people started using "Catholic Twitter" as a collective noun to lump all Catholics together instead of addressing a small group of individuals who just happen to be Catholic.

News flash: not all those who are Catholic believe the same thing nor do they use and/or express themselves on social media the same. It's a disservice to those who do positive things on the website to be lumped together with the mischief-makers. Using "Catholic Twitter" when you're talking about a tiny number of people isn't nice. Yes, there are some people who love to ruffle feathers and add fuel to the fire but not everyone is like that. Can we please stop these "Catholic Twitter" comments? Don't lump everyone together. If you have a problem with what someone (or a group of people) said, why not address them personally?

Furthermore, it seems like we can no longer express our opinions without someone being offended... even within our little Catholic "bubble." Subtweets, shade... whatever you want to call it -- it all divides us. What happened to the days of disagreeing and being able to talk about our differences of opinions without it becoming a big argument? I remember those days. I remember the days when the biggest problem within "Catholic Twitter" was the big flirt-fests in which we couldn't chat without flirting happening. (Those who've been around since around mid-2008 know what I'm talking about). Now? You simply can't say anything without offending someone. I'm sure that even this blog post is going to offend at least one person because they're going to think I'm talking about them specifically. (hint: I'm not. Don't give anyone a reason to make a "You're so Vain" parody.)

I honestly feel like Twitter (as a whole, not just our little Catholic bubble) has hit rock bottom and I rarely feel joy when interacting with folks on that site. Even if I'm on there for a couple of minutes, I log out feeling angry, hurt, annoyed, and/or incredibly uncharitable. Yes, politics and the state of the country/society have contributed to it... but some of us aren't helping matters. You'd think that, after seeing everything that's been going on, more people would want to contribute to trying to make the site a friendlier, less-stressful place where we could chat with friends... but it's been the opposite.

To those who have the patience and thick skin to continue doing their good works -- sharing saint quotes and other gems that inspire people to learn more about the beauty of our Church: thank you! We need you to keep up the good fight that some of us can't deal with for whatever personal reason. (side note: as previously stated a couple of blog posts ago, I'm personally too sensitive to negativity and I feel physically and emotionally drained when I or someone I know gets attacked for no reason so I avoid those situations.)

To those who contribute to the drama: I will continue praying for you. You're all adults. You know what you're doing. You know Who is going to hold you accountable for your actions after all is said and done. Oh, did you forget that we -- every single one of us -- are all going be held accountable for everything we did in this lifetime? This is your friendly reminder.

I know I have a ton of really dumb stuff that I've already done in my lifetime (thus far); I don't want to add to it, which is why I'm going to avoid whatever will add to it. For now, Twitter is one of those things. As I said, I can't get on it without being uncharitable (even if it's only in my head; God will still know those) which lead to my decision for the break. Perhaps I can return to Twitter in a month's time and things will be better. However, as I continue to work on my relationship with God and try to cultivate a healthier spiritual and interior life, I'm currently not strong enough to log in and let the comments not affect me.

I will continue praying for all of you -- I literally do say "please bless everyone who follows me on social media" when I do my nighttime prayers -- and I hope to return to a Twitter with healthier communication habits.

This blog's Facebook page is still a good place to stay in touch if you ever want to pass along a link or something fun that you think I may enjoy. You can also post any prayers requests on that page or the Frassati Prayer Community page; I check both every day.

Anyway, that's it for now. I've said my piece (and hope that it leads to people considering peace). As I said in my tweet that told every one of my break: please be kind to one another. There's already so much chaos and fighting; we don't need us Catholics to get even more divided on things that don't matter.

And, now, if you'll excuse me, I have a novel I need to continue working on.

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Friday, August 4, 2017

St. Francis de Sales is Setting Me Straight

Did you ever start something but didn't finish it until much later than you anticipated which, in hindsight, was perfect timing? Have you ever wanted to send someone something -- a letter or a gift -- but didn't get around to sending it until days or weeks later, not knowing that they were struggling with something and that your gift arrived when they most needed it? That's what I'm experiencing with Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales.

I started reading it during Lent but didn't make it past page 44 for some reason. After I decided to give myself time to work on my relationship with God, I started rereading it and it feels like he's talking directly to me. So far, in the first 20 pages, he's touched on exactly what I recently went through and what I need to work on now.

St. Francis de Sales talks about giving up sinful ways, but how it's much easier to have the intention to give it than giving it up along with the affection for the sin, which tempts us and makes it easier for us to fall back into that particular sin.

"... there are penitents who forsake sin, yet without forsaking their sinful affections; that is to say, they intend to sin no more, but it goes sorely against them to abstain from the pleasures of sin;-- they formally renounce and forsake sinful acts, but they turn back many a fond lingering look to what they have left, like Lot'a wife as she fled from Sodom."

When I read this (pages 16-17 on my Kindle edition), I had this "aha! This is the first thing I need to work on" moment. Yep. You got me, St. Francis. I'm ashamed to admit it but that's exactly what happened in over the course of a year (July 2016 through last month) when a group I recently detached myself from became part of my social life and I began having second thoughts and (a bit of) regret over having given up the lifestyle I had from my teen years up to when I was 20, only a year before I reverted to the faith.

I knew that these people live in a way and do a lot of what is contrary to Church teachings but they presented everything in this attractive little package -- and they were all so nice despite what they did -- and I found it very hard to resist the temptation. I mean, I did -- which I'm sure was all the Holy Spirit and saints interceding for me -- but it did a lot of damage to my relationship with God because this all happened right after I cut toxic friendships out of my life and was in a vulnerable place. Needless to say, that led to my struggling with the faith and, well, if you've been reading this blog over the last couple of weeks, you know the rest.

"... If you seek to lead a devout life, you must not merely forsake sin; but you must further cleanse your heart from all affections pertaining to sin; for, to say nothing of the danger of relapse, these wretched affections will perpetually enfeebled your mind, and clog it, so that you will be unable to be diligent, ready and frequent in good works, wherein nevertheless lies the very essence of all true devotion."

I read this and I immediately went "... I have to give up *insert social media platform,* don't I?" It wouldn't be impossible but it would be hard for me because it's been helpful on my quest to repair my relationship with God. Still, there was a lot of temptation to slip up so I had to do something slightly drastic that I normally wouldn't do: I blocked everyone and whoever was associated with them to avoid seeing any of their updates on my feed. I unfollowed the core group of people weeks ago but weak little me used to say "Oh, that's a new picture that popped up on my feed... it'll just be a quick peek to see how they're doing." Some days were easier than others on this front. Some days my self-control is great. Other days (most days, let's be honest here), I'm too weak. That's why I knew I had to block everyone.

I hate blocking people on social media (I feel like rude doing it and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings) but I actually went ahead and spent quite some time going on a blocking spree. I know they won't notice but I've already noticed the big difference for me. My feed is quieter and I feel less stressed out. Most importantly, I don't get distracted or tempted to "check in" on anyone... because I can't. I've done all I can to make sure that temptation won't be there.

I can't allow myself to hate these people (I think I'm incapable of it, anyway) and I will pray for them. What was that quote (also by St. Francis de Sales) that I shared on the blog's FB page? "Love your neighbor with a great, charitable love, but befriend only those with whom you can be mutually supportive in virtue." It may sound harsh to some people but it's important to be careful about who you surround yourself with because they can either help lead you to Heaven... or help lead you astray. Learn from my mistakes, y'all -- especially you younger readers.

I feel like a terrible person for the blocking and everything I just wrote but I have to be honest with myself and know what needs to change in order for me to get back on the right track. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my struggle with the faith took the biggest hit when I started feeling like I didn't have what I took to remain a faithful Catholic but being surrounded by the folks I was introduced to last summer only caused more problems.

I'm not blaming them because they didn't do it on purpose but having them in my life didn't help. I had to retreat a little, get back into more frequent contact with friends who are good for me (who challenge and inspire me and my faith), and now I'm making sure that I don't fall back into all of that mess. It will all make more sense once the third novel is out because I'm taking a lot of what I went through in the last year and incorporating it into the third novel. That's all I'm saying.

Earlier today I went to Adoration (First Fridays FTW!) and I just sat there and asked God to help me through whatever else I'm going to have to face in order to better my relationship with Him. I didn't want to leave Adoration (I rarely do when I'm there) but I had to because I knew I have a number of things to do that I couldn't put off. It was in that moment that I knew that I'm on the right track once again. I know a couple of local Adoration chapels that are opened either perpetual or, at least, are open during most of the day so I think I'm going to visit Jesus more frequently, and even take Introduction to the Devout Life with me.

I look forward to seeing what else St. Francis de Sales has in store for me. I know he'll help set me straight and that it'll be quite beneficial for me. Also, I'm sure that between him and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (who've been my tag-team patron saints this year; they came out of nowhere, lol), I'm going to grow a lot in my spiritual life over the next couple of months. Who has two thumbs and is uber excited about that? This gal!

Alright, that's enough stalling. I have a couple more things to do -- including work on the novel -- so I should skedaddle and get to it.

I hope you all had a lovely week and that you have a blessed weekend. :D

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rethinking Twitter

I almost quit Twitter over the weekend. For several weeks, I went back and forth about deleting it altogether. I thought about what might happen if I did. I would lose years worth of online friendships (I'll officially be on Twitter for a decade this upcoming January) with whom I correspond mostly on Twitter.

On a more superficial level, I would lose "my brand." Though there are two of us online who are known as "nerdwriter" (myself and wildly popular YouTuber Evan Puschak; he's added the "The/Thee" before nerdwriter) and sometimes people confuse the two -- you know, both young adults living in Los Angeles with similar usernames -- but I cover stuff that Evan doesn't. I don't have anywhere near the number of followers he has (holy cow, dude, lol) but my username has somehow stuck around in Catholic circles and it's helped me in career-related things. I actually considered giving Evan the username so that he could keep it simple (just nerdwriter) while I could've started over but it didn't feel right.

I thought about "squatting" the username -- keeping it, closing it up, and deleting all tweets -- but I don't know what Twitter's rules are or if they will change them in the future, taking the username from me. I thought about deleting it and not caring if someone else took it... then I really stressed over that potential decision. My fear is that someone would snatch it up, pretend they were me, and then try to ruin my reputation with it. No, I'm not paranoid. It's happened to me before. Spoiler alert. Highlight between asterisks if you've read the first novel or want to be spoiled. *What David tells Will that Candace did to Lina was what I went through. My usernames were hacked and things were sent out by an ex of mine to try to ruin my reputation -- which then former friends (who were the inspirations for Candace) later used to further try to ruin my reputation -- during the days when Myspace was king.*

Sometimes I think to myself, "what if I just delete everything but the blog? I always feel weird promoting my posts and/or my novels anyway." I think about some of the women I look up to and see how they've given up their social media accounts, their blogs, etc. and how they live perfectly content. I think about how I've covered a lot of my life over the nearly 10 years (a decade this upcoming Christmas Day) I've been writing and how people are probably tired of reading a (basically) public journal of some random gal from Los Angeles who reverted to the faith and has, in recent months, struggled with the faith.

I became very upset over some Twitter drama I was dragged into (I don't know why I was dragged into it since I keep myself far away from it... and the conversation had nothing to do with me in the first place) and I let y'all know what I thought about the whole thing. (For those who missed them, the tweets are found here, here, here, here, and here). As I said in the last tweet, I didn't do it for attention or for people to tell me that I should stay. I said it because I was genuinely upset and I hoped that it would make people think twice before pulling me into their arguments. A lot of really lovely people tried to keep me on the site, giving me such lovely compliments that I don't deserve but made me feel warm and fuzzy nonetheless. Still, it was something that had been on my mind for a long time so I knew I needed to think and pray about it.

In the end, I decided to stay... because something someone said stuck with me: "Small stones make ripples. And God's message is rarely called a small stone." (Shout out to Franco Walls for the tweet!) I thought about it and I could almost hear God saying "you can keep doing little things in an effort to combat some of the bad." I may not do anything except take a couple of seconds from people's days to remind them of something good -- of God or the goal of getting to Heaven through a saint quote -- but, at least, it wouldn't be contributing to the uber toxic environment we all encounter on the site these days. So that's what I've decided to do.

I want to keep posting saint quotes and sharing links to great articles to remind people of the Truth. It may annoy some people and it may not do anything at all -- perhaps it'll only be beneficial for me -- but it feels like the right thing to do. I'm a "mediator" by default and sticking around makes the most sense to me, even when I'm really annoyed with HS-level drama.

It also means I'm going to have to seriously push myself out of my "run away from toxic folks online" comfort zone. That doesn't mean I'm going to tolerate what happened over the weekend (I'm going to be using those mute and block buttons more freely) but it does mean staying put. Of course, if I have nothing good to contribute, I'm going to stay quiet but I'll make an effort to add some better content to the site.

Perhaps, in the future, it may change again (especially if it becomes problematic for me on a deeper level). I am a private person (trust me, you guys don't know everything I go through) and I like time to recharge after being overwhelmed by the negativity so I may one day delete everything. For now, I'm going to try to do a little good and hope it's enough.

Anyway, that's it. I'm starting my big project later this month and have to finish my third novel before then (3.5 more weeks) so I need to go work on that. The novel, that is. We're in the triple digits, folks, so it hopefully won't be long now. :D

I hope you are all having a lovely week thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :)