Thursday, May 26, 2011

So, We Meet Again.

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last couple of days but I've been dealing with a hectic schedule as well as other things that have made me say "So... we meet again." Amongst these things is anxiety.

Of course it had to come back after I said I'd been fine... and I had been fine. I tend to try to come up with a rational reason why it's come up (which helps keep it controlled) but the fact that I've been dealing with it again for the past couple of days really stinks. With my birthday coming up, not having my dad here for another year (and the anniversary of his death not too far away), with the stress of having all these expectations on me to do things and be certain way, with the pressure to decide my future NOW... it's really no wonder I have the amount of anxiety I do.

I don't think anyone really understands what it feels like unless you yourself have anxiety. There are so many different ways one feels the anxiety. At the moment I have this feeling that I am sort of stuck in an overwhelming crowd with no way of getting out and a deep desire to get away from the crowd. That's the best way I can describe it. I feel like I'm stagnant where I am -- when it comes to my academic career, my chosen career, and even my spirituality and I have no clue as to where to go. And before anyone says "Just trust God and pray," trust me, I do this but when you are experiencing anxiety and it's as bad as it is (for me) right now, it's really hard to focus. It's not easy; not impossible but not easy.

I've written several times about anxiety (simply search "anxiety" on this blog and you'll see the posts) and how I don't see it as something else than a blessing. I've gotten criticized for this but I've always felt that there has to be a reason why I have anxiety (although I know what past experiences have caused it to actually get to the point where I have panic attacks) and I, in a way, welcome it. Whether it means I can offer up my panic attacks for someone or something or whether it reminds me of what is truly important (God and doing things for Him instead of my selfish self), I would rather think of the anxiety as a blessing than a curse.

Last night and today (when it's been particularly bad but not as bad as it has in the past) I was thinking that maybe this anxiety is what I need at the moment. I feel like I've been selfish and not focused enough on what is important and this may be a sign to slow down and re-evaluate some things that have been causing me anxiety lately. As I said, I feel like I've been stuck when it comes to my relationship with God... like I need to take the next step to strengthen that relationship but I have no idea where to start. I don't have a spiritual director (and my search for one has not gone too well thus far) which makes things slightly more difficult. Thankfully I have something coming up this weekend that the Daughters of St. Paul are hosting and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Anyway, I'd like to ask y'all to please pray for me 'cause I will need them in the next couple of days. I haven't had a panic attack (thank God!) because I've been able to keep them at bay with tools I was given when I was in cognitive-behavioral therapy but it doesn't mean that it couldn't happen. More importantly, please pray that I get out of this feeling of being stuck. At this point I care more about my spiritual health than anything else because I feel that as soon as I get it sorted, the anxiety will also subside.

I hope y'all have had a good week thus far and that it will continue to be well or get better. If you have anything plaguing you, let me know so I can hopefully offer up my anxiety for it. :)

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

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest Blogger Andrew on 5 Things Every Catholic Should Do (Every Day)

If you're following me or Andrew (@perfidem) on Twitter then I'm sure you lovely folks have already heard that I wrote a brutally honest blog post over at Per Fidem. Yes, I stand by every single word I wrote. ;) Anyway, it's only fair to have Andrew write something for this blog so here it is. :D (P.S. Might have him guest blog more often if I can persuade him... ;))


Hey – hi – howdy – sup,

About a week or so ago I was having a conversation with a friend, and she threatened to write a post for my blog; unbeknownst to her, I had actually thought about asking her to write a guest post for me earlier in the week. This would serve two purposes, one, I would get another blog post on my site, and two, I wouldn’t have to write it my self (apparently I’m a fairly lazy person).

I guess it would make sense to introduce myself; my name is Andrew Hedstrom (23yrs old) from Per Fidem, a blog on Faith, Apologetics, Philosophy, Politics, and Life. I graduated from CSUSB in 2009 with a BA in Criminal Justice, I’m a substitute teacher with a local school district, and I’m a soldier in the US Army.

Emmy was kind enough to keep her post for my site fairly short as most of mine are rarely more than a few paragraphs. I assume, however, that I should write the post for her site in the same fashion she does, and keep them more than 1 or 2 paragraphs (apologies in advance if you get bored by the end). And now, without further ado…

5 Things Every Catholic Should Do [Every Day]

1. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
As a serious Catholic, if we truly believe what the Church teaches about the Holy Mass, then why on earth would we not try to attend every day? The saints attended Mass as often as possible. The little old ladies attend Holy Mass every day. Even “the Angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass” (St. Augustine). This is the surest sign that one is trying to be a saint, so let’s get to it.

2. Adoration
Another thing we as serious Catholics (as opposed to cafeteria Catholics) should do each and every day is visit Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Ideally, we’d see Him for an hour, however, in today’s culture that may not necessarily be plausible. Simply 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever it may be, is definitely better than nothing! Just be consistent. It’s precisely when we don’t feel like going that it means the most to Our Lord.

3. Rosary
I’m pretty certain this one is self-explanatory. Every day.

4. Sacrifice
This particular one may seem a little obvious as well, but I think I can offer a little bit more insight. As we all know, sacrifice can be something we give up, but it can also be something we do. For instance, hate working out? Then go for a jog. Offer it up to God. Offer it for a particular intention. It does wonders!

5. Read
Last but certainly not least, reading; this is the best way to form ourselves. Even as little as 15 minutes a day is good. By the end of the month, you’ll have gotten through a few books at least!

Remember, consistency is key!

- Andrew

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So, Lady Gaga is Now Jesus...

... or that's what she apparently thinks of herself. This morning I was doing my daily news rounds when I stumbled across an interview by The Guardian UK in which Lady Gaga calls herself a martyr, says her concerts are religious experiences, and says that she teaches her "disciples" to worship themselves. I don't even know where to start.

I could sit here and point out that almost everything she said is just bad (not to mention all of the blasphemous things she's done in the past) but I'm sure most of you guys will do that yourselves and that there will later be blogs discussing it in detail. I won't though, because I'll let you guys read the article and decide for yourselves. Consider it a fun "challenge"... a sort of "spot the things that she'd need to go to confession for" exercise.

I will say that, I will pray for this woman because she's reached a point where she thinks she's God-like and that's a very dangerous place to be. I do feel for her having been bullied and reading everything she suffered growing up but I can't agree with what she's doing now. I do understand that in the entertainment business things that shock are what are valued and that the public is fickle and always looking for the next big thing... but things have gotten out of control. She likes the spotlight and will continue to do these things until the public tires of it. I will just pray that she comes back down to earth and something changes. I don't like her persona and think that it's kind of dangerous to take her and what she says and does seriously, but she's still a human being.

Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box. I'll let you guys come to your own conclusions after you read the article.

I hope you're all having a great week thus far. :)

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm at a Crossroads: Religion or Writing?

Image: jscreationzs /

I'm currently at a sort of crossroads. With the California Student Aid Commission being jerks about my Cal Grant (I SHOULD be eligible for one more year as I've only received 3 years worth of Cal Grants AND I'm one of the students that actually needs the money as I have none to pay for school), I've been forced to think about what I'm going to do when I graduate from college in less than a year. Okay, looming graduation date and Graduate School applications are also making me think about it. It takes me a while to really consider everything before applying to schools as I take my education seriously.

Lately (as in the past couple of weeks) I've been feeling as if I'm not meant to pursue a Master of Arts in Religious Studies or Theology. Have I ever mentioned that I always dreamed about going to the University of British Columbia (UBC) to study Creative Writing? Maybe it's because I've been so disillusioned with my undergraduate Religious Studies education or because I've been stifling my love of writing for something more practical (teaching Religion). Maybe it's this nagging feeling that I should be in Vancouver (which I've had for nearly 5 years; it started almost at the same time I returned to the Church) or maybe it's my undying desire to attend UBC. I don't know. All I know is that a Master's in Religion or Theology is not currently appealing... and I feel like I'm going to need major guidance soon.

I've been getting a lot of older women (and occasionally men) come to me for questions regarding Catholicism. It's kind of weird that in my neighborhood I've kind of become the "go-to" person to ask. An older lady from a couple of blocks away asked me to teach her how to pray the Rosary (after word of mouth from neighbors) and I gladly help with these things. I don't think I'm qualified to help with many things and try to direct them to the right people for the heavier things but I answer whatever questions I can. I refuse to get paid for it though I've been offered. Sharing my faith and my love of Catholicism is something I love to do without asking anything in return. It's when I answer questions others may have that I am most happiest and it makes me re-think the Master's in Theology but deep down I don't feel it. Again, I don't know if it's the disillusionment of my current education, if it's my selfish desire to attend UBC and focus on writing, or if I'm just scared that I just am not qualified enough teach Religion.

I'll admit that I occasionally feel like some sort of fraud. I feel like I know so little that I should not even offer my opinions on certain theological issues that come into conversation. All I know is that I love God, I love our wonderful religion and the beautiful heritage we have. I'm happiest when I'm praying, contemplating, and learning. I cannot get enough of learning about Catholicism but I'm always "still learning." I'm miles behind most of my friends but that's okay.

With writing... it's always felt like a natural extension of who I am. For me to write what's on my mind is like breathing. My best friend growing up, Rudy, recognized it from an early age. We've been friends since we were 5 years old and I can still remember that he'd give me notebooks and pens for my birthday as a gift. He did that until I turned 18 and he moved away with his own dream of entering the Marines. When he still calls, he asks me if I'm still writing and I assure him that I am.

Needless to say, I have no clue as to what to do next. I can either continue my love of learning about Catholicism (and this time at an actual Catholic university, not a CINO) or if I should just pursue my dream of writing for a living. Of course, I can always write about Catholicism and thus do both but I'd need to learn more about the Faith before being able to do so. I don't know. I have a lot to think about.

If y'all can say a little prayer for me (either about these decision or maybe finding a way to fight Cal Grant so I can receive it my final year), I'd greatly appreciate it.

Anyway, I'm still not feeling all that great so I'm going to take it easy. :) Maybe I'll watch a movie and try to take my mind off of all of this for a little bit. I hope y'all are having a good start of week! :)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jesus, Take the Wheel

A week ago today I got my driver's license. I often get asked why it took me so long to get it and the answer is simple: anxiety. Yesterday was St. Dymphna's feast day but I'm taking Sundays as a day of rest from everything (including blogging) so I didn't write anything. Needless to say, I believe that is through her intercession and, really, God's grace that I have been able to get progressively better just in the last year alone. I haven't had a full blown attack in months (I believe that not since before the New Year) and it's been both very freeing and a bit of a challenge.

I always thought of my anxiety as more of a gift than a burden. Somehow I felt closer to God when I was going through my panic attacks. I used to offer up the very worst ones for whatever or whomever needed them. Now that I don't really have them anymore, I have a sort of challenge of finding myself again because anxiety and the panic attacks had been so much a part of me for the past decade.

Halfway through my behind-the-wheel test, while I was nervously trying to focus on the examiner's directions, this song title came to mind: Jesus, Take the Wheel. I took a deep breath and inwardly said "Okay, God, if I don't pass this driving exam it's because I'm not supposed to yet. If I'm going to hurt someone or myself, then I accept not passing." I immediately relaxed. A few minutes later I pulled into DMV parking lot and the examiner congratulated me on having passed my exam. I was beamed and I thanked God. (side note: I actually drove to church later in the day and knelt before the tabernacle and thanked God, as well as kept my promise to the Infant of Prague.)

I've found myself having a lot of these "Jesus, Take the Wheel" moments in the past couple of months which may explain why the anxiety has also lessened. Though I still stress about things, I eventually let them go and say "Your will be done, Lord." It's hard not to have anxiety (strange but true) but it gets easier remembering that if you put your trust in God, everything will work out. I've always said that I believed that everything happened for a reason but it was never truer for me.

Anyway, I thought it would be fitting to include Carrie Underwood's song in this post since it was this song that's been sticking in my head for a while now and because it's Monday and I like to have Music Mondays when I can. :) And, I will admit, I cried while watching the video... especially the part with the older gentleman and his wife because I did the same thing the gentleman did but only in my case it was my father and I so it brought back those memories.

Anyway, I am not feeling 100% so I'm going to try to take it easy today. :) I hope y'all have a great start of the week. :D

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Real Education Starts

If you're following me on twitter then you've undoubtedly seen my struggles with school this past year. I barely made it out alive this past semester with a 3.0. It was by far the most stressful and infuriating semester I've had my entire academic career... but I gained more out of it than I have any other semester. I've been openly rebelling against my professors because I don't agree with the liberation theology taught. I'm sorry but I just can't go along with what I know will only led me astray from God. However, looking back at the school year and particularly this Spring semester, I noticed a change in me that I did not like. Though my actions were in response to my being unhappy with my education, I realize that I should have handled myself and my actions differently. I should have been more charitable in my thoughts and words. I don't know why I didn't realize that I'd been doing it earlier but it's never too late to repair these things. :D

Of course it didn't help that some of my friends were doing the same and it was easy to get caught up in criticizing the choice of material being taught, but it doesn't excuse me from the fact that I should have never done that (criticize) in the first place because I should've known better. Yes, my professors do and teach a number of inexcusable material that can easily lead my classmates astray but I shouldn't have been bratty (at least inwardly if I didn't act it out) about it. I did have some patience (though not as much as I have had in the past) and I tried but I didn't try hard enough. I learned the hard way that, as much as I'd like to open up the discussions in class, I will get shut down 85% of the time because it's sort of an unwritten rule that we cannot contradict what is being taught. All of this brought out frustration and anger but it's something I have to live with for another year.

It's a bit humbling to get docked points on things for not agreeing with professors. It's really hard not to think "you are so wrong" when you hear things that are being skewed in order to fit a person's argument. It's worse to know that you are yourself changing because of the situation are in. During Lent I had a very hard time with all of this but, like I said, I believe all of this has helped me really learn a lot about things about myself... things I know I can change.

I'm in the middle of purging all material that I was pretty much forced to "learn." All the notes and things that aren't graded (keep all graded material for at least a year after you finish that semester) are going straight to the bin. It's part of my late Spring cleaning but it's entirely therapeutic. I'm going to go through a kind of period of renewal. I've realized things that need to change and I'm making a real effort to follow through with my plans. While throwing away material and trying to forget everything I was "taught", I'm going through some of the books I bought when I first returned to the Church -- you know, kind of restarting my real education once again. As I said before, there are people that know more about our beautiful Faith than I do and I have a lot left to learn. Though I know I will not be able to say anything in class (oh, the death glares I got when I said I was pro-life and against certain things during one final...), especially since I am pretty much done with my Religious Studies major courses, it's good to be keep learning and keep yourself to God through the knowledge you acquire.

As my summer vacation starts, so does my real education. I know I will, from time to time, be so excited about what I learn that I will share it on this blog. :D Consider this your warning. :D

Anyway, I should really try to finish cleaning up my desk area which has piles of papers and books scattered around it. Well, to be honest, everything is in piles because I sort things before I put them away. I'm very organized when I am not crazy busy. :D

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

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Rest is Handwritten

Yes, the title is a play on "the rest is unwritten..." from "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield.

I saw this posted on Singing in the Dark a couple of months ago and thought it was a pretty good idea. I mean, how many times do you actually get to read something hand written by the author or contributors of a blog? Not very often. Since I am back on my writing kick, I thought this was the appropriate time to post this. In my hand writing, I'll an answering:

1. Name and Blog Name
2. Right handed, left handed, or ambidextrous
3. Favorite letters to write
4. Least favorite letters to write
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
7. Favorite song lyrics
8. Tag 7 people
9. Any special note or drawing

(Click to enlarge)

(P.S. I actually wrote it a pre-Lent but was so busy with school that I didn't have time to scan it in.)

I am in the middle of my Spring cleaning so this is all for today. Short and simple. I'll write more tomorrow or else I know my buddy Andrew (who created the awesome website y'all should check out) will get on my case about it. Y'all can thank him for more frequent postings from now on. :-P

Hope everyone has a great rest of weekend. :D

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