Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Big Update Post: Health; Lent Failures and Successes

Wow. I haven't blogged in over a week. Sorry. It's been a crazy busy week. I received my test results on Thursday (which I will write about), my brother arrived from Texas on Friday for a visit (and he's still here), and my weekend was crazy (Mondays count as my weekend since I take off Sundays and Mondays). Breathe, Emmy... breathe. Let's recap how crazy things are, shall we?

If you haven't already read via my twitter and/or the blog's FB page, I am completely healthy... on paper. Upper GI results came back with good news: no damage to my stomach, esophagus, or any other part that they checked. No acid reflux as far as they can see (though the doctor said I might still have some). No ulcer. No H. Pylori. My blood test results are perfect. The doctor is stumped. The problem is that I still have some problems eating. I had Spanish rice for the first time since late summer a couple of days ago and I had no immediate reaction. It was only until the next day that the acid was a bit uncomfortable and I didn't feel 100%. Thankfully it's less than before. I haven't tried all foods but I'm starting to try some of my old staples. Tackled homemade fries as I wrote this out and so far so good (whoo!).

Right now I'm aiming for a healthier weight and to exercise a bit more (I've been starting slowly as per my doctor's suggestion). I'm technically at a "normal" weight at the moment but it's at the very low end (only a step to the right from being considered underweight) so I want to gain a bit more. 2000 calories per day to achieve this goal... let's do this! ;) As for still being sick, I'm hoping that I am able to eat a bit more now that I'm off my bland diet. My next doctor appointment isn't until late April so let's hope I gain at least 5 pounds in the meantime. And, don't worry, I don't obsessively check my weight. I do it once every couple of days (no more than twice a week) to make sure I haven't lost more weight in the process. I (thankfully) still hold a healthy image about weight. I wouldn't even bother weighing myself or counting calories if I wasn't asked to. lol.

Have I thanked y'all for all of your prayers the last couple of months? No? Well, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I know some of you have messaged me throughout the last couple of months (and especially the last two weeks) and I firmly believe that I've found strength and peace of mind because of them. Just one more: THANK YOU!

What else is going on? Lent has been both a success and a failure thus far. Blargh. Why a failure? Because I haven't been able to not fast or to not eat meat on Fridays. I hopefully will this coming Friday but thus far, failure. Not to mention that it hasn't been overall hard for me since all I "gave up" were non-Catholic books. I have four books going on simultaneously (Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe, Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Therese of Lisieux by Fr. John F. Russell O.Carm, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church) but I'm enjoying myself. It's not a challenge. In this way I feel like I've failed. However, it's still early enough that I can fix this.

What I ended up deciding to do (with the help of my confessor) is to give up my time spent online; especially on Fridays when I can't skip on not eating meat (while I try to figure out non-meat items that I can eat without problems on Fridays). I will most likely continue to give up my time on social networks after 12:00 p.m. on Fridays throughout Lent (even when I don't eat meat) because it'll be hard for me. I'm not addicted to social networks but I do spend quite a bit of time on them (especially twitter) so it'll be good for me to cut back on that and focus on my main guy (God).

Successes thus far include the end of the 54 day Rosary novena. I'm not calling victory yet as I'm not done, but the last day will hopefully be on Friday so I'm almost there. It's been a struggle. I've had some hard days that have produced "maybe you should give me" thoughts... which are quickly followed by "get your butt behind me, Evil One... I'm finishing this thing!" It's good to use my stubbornness productively. lol. It's become such a big part of my day (included in my nightly prayers) that I feel like I'm going to have to get a new novena (quick, someone send me a big intention that requires a novena!) so that I don't feel it as much as I think I will when it's over. Is it possible to be addicted to novenas? If so, no one get me help! lol.

Anyway, the local parish has confessions on Tuesday evenings so I'm going to stop writing so I can do some vacuuming before I go. I want to go to Mass, stay for confession afterwards, and then spend some time in front of the tabernacle before I put myself to bed at 8-9 p.m. Since Pope Benedict XVI's last Papal Audience will be shown live on EWTN at 1 a.m. PST, I want to get a nap in before it happens. I get up at 4 a.m. regardless (to drive my mother to work) but I still want to get a bit of sleep in so I'm not a complete zombie tomorrow. I already warned my family I will most likely be in tears so they've been warned if they hear me reaching for tissues at that time. lol.

That's it for now. I hope y'all are having a good start of week thus far. :D

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Suddenly Very Grateful For My Reversion

I was originally planning on writing about the huge music overhaul I've been doing but I am not done with yet. Seriously, I'm still stuck with the "E"s and I'm going by alphabetical order. This is what happens when you're a mega music nerd and you buy music (mp3s, vinyl records, CDs...) like crazy. Or used to. Yes, my addiction to iTunes has been curved by the discovery of Spotify. I don't really indulge myself in it as much (okay, buying guitar strings for my acoustic guitar does not count) but I still have years worth of "damage" to sort through. In the mean time, you're going to get this...

I am suddenly very grateful for my reversion. This is connected to the original Music Monday post (which I hope to have up next month), too. See, I was going through the songs and I came across the song "Night and Day" sung by Ella Fitzgerald. This song has a special place in my heart because it was the first song a young man ever dedicated to me. We were 16-17 years old at the time (yes, we were into this kind of music even that far back). Technically, he dedicated the Frank Sinatra version but the song itself reminded me of him. Long story short, the world is small and I ended up finding out that we're still somehow connected. That led to a couple of hours of catching up on how he's been doing... and a realization that I am completely blessed to have reverted back to the Faith a couple of years ago.

Now, this isn't me saying that the guy is horrible or anything like that. He's still the same guy goofy guy I remember from our teenage years. The memories I have of him still bring a smile to my face. While it's doubtful that we'll ever have the friendship we had a decade ago (I'm happy to use the phrase "too religious" to describe myself in this case), it's nice to stroll down memory lane. He was a solid friend (especially when my boyfriend at the time wasn't the nicest) and I thank him for that. However, I remembered what path my life was going in those years and I cringe. Again, nothing to do with my old friend but everything to do with me and my choices and actions in those years.

I can't beat myself up too much over dumb decisions I made as a teenager. If I hadn't committed those mistakes, I wouldn't have learned or grown up. Yes, I cringe and I wish I could erase that part of my past but I can't. Instead, I become aware of where I was and where I am now. I can give thanks to God for not giving up on me and for helping me get my life back on track. Things weren't as bad as they sound. The worst thing I did was probably lie in order to fit in (which itself is horrible; I now I detest lying with every fiber of my being) but I am still disappointed in teenage Emmy. However, teenage Emmy turned into adult (with an inner goofball kid) Emmy and she is happy about how things have turned out.

Would I trade my anxiety and my current stomach problems for my life pre-reversion, when I almost never got sick? Never. It's times like this that I am reminded of how lucky I am (sick or not) and how would never trade my life then for my life now. I may not be exactly sure of what God wants me to do (still sort of in post graduation limbo despite my freelance work) but I know that I trust Him to guide me down the path He wants me to take.

Anyway, just random blog post. I'm sure I've written another one like this before but it's been a while and I just wanted to reiterate my love for and gratefulness to God.

And now, I'm going to go listen to the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons songs I have and see if any of them need to be purged. ;)

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Therapy, A Diagnosis, and My Superpower

I just returned home from my third therapy session. I'm open about this because a lot of people land on my blog searching for St. Dymphna and/or anxiety disorder. Y'all know I'm open (to an extent) about this because there seems to be a stigma attached to going to therapy and dealing with mental disorders. Yes, I said the dread "m d" words. If you've know me long enough (especially in person) you know that I don't exactly give me "sick!" vibe off because everything that happens to me is internally. In fact, I've been told that you'd never guess I deal with anxiety if I didn't mention it. That's a compliment of sorts but I'm still open so you have a face to put to the disorder.

Anyway, today I was told that they seem to officially think that I have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) which is a pretty serious anxiety disorder. However, now that I have a diagnosis (instead of the generic "generalized anxiety disorder"), I can start working on getting through the past experiences that have caused this and work on doing things out of my comfort zone (within reason) to get rid of certain fears that are elevated by the PTSD. You know that heinous teacher I had in high school that used to love to humiliate me in class or that jerkface guy who tried to force himself on me, months within each other? Both big factors in my PTSD.

If you're new to the blog and don't know the stories behind those incidents (I wrote about them but only found that one link), I had a History teacher when I was 14-15 who used to humiliate me in front of my peers... and used to fail my papers on the spot, without reading them. And the guy? Big jock who was well liked by everyone tried to force himself on me when we were alone. Nothing happened because I pushed him away (I may look small but I'm physically stronger than you might guess) and was able to get away. Nothing was done to them for what they did either. Of course. I mean, this is the school that did nothing when I told them (and presented physical evidence) when I was being sent death threats. All of this has played a role in my being afraid of certain situations and has thus caused anxiety. Now you guys know part of where that comes from. There are other things but this is what we're focused on now. I wasn't kidding when I've said I've endured some pretty harsh things but I'm still in one piece thanks to God. Now the trick is to do what I can to completely bury those situations in the past and to work on preparing myself for situations in which I feel threatened so I don't have panic attacks. Easier said than done but my therapist has confidence in me to be able to strengthen myself (mentally).

Even though I've only seen her three times and has known me for so little, she paid me the best compliment -- she said that I have a superpower and that superpower is my unfailing faith in God. The words "I wouldn't normally say this to a client but..." when she said it to me. How many therapists that aren't self described as Catholic would say that to their clients? Not even my two Catholic therapists that I had before said that. (side note: By the way totally crediting Our Blessed Mother's intercession for this because I've been praying about my anxiety in the current novena and I had my first therapy session with my current therapist on the penultimate day of the "petitions" part of the 54 day Rosary Novena. I'm sure St. Dymphna had a hand in that as well as I did a novena to her earlier last month as well.) So my superpower is my faith. What's yours? lol. jk. ;)

Our plan of attack (on the anxiety) is to use my faith in God. She (therapist) thinks I'm strong enough to try it without medication so, as Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati would say, "verso l'alto." She's going to help me prepare the tools I need to (God willing) overcome my anxiety... using my love of God and my trust in Him. Dear God, thank you so much for putting this woman into my life because she gets me and she gets where I draw my strength from. She's the second person to say that to me in less than 24 hours too. As she said (from observations and conversations), the world can come crumbling in around me but the one thing I won't lose is my faith in Him. My father's death? I clung onto the Cross. Illnesses? I accept and offer up the suffering that comes with it. Life throws me insane curve balls sometimes (exhibit A: past six months of stomach problems without a clue as to what causes them) but it only makes my faith stronger.

I have no idea what my therapist has planned to help me out but I'm pretty darn excited to find out. I feel like this is the long awaited answer to my prayers. I have a diagnosis, we're starting to figure out a plan of attack, and I'm going to apply the waterproof war paint because its on. She was the second of three people -- in less than 24 hours -- to tell me that I'm a lot stronger than I think I am (first being my adopted bro, Brandon). God, I got the message loud and clear. Thank you. I can do this. I will to do this. Let's use my stubbornness for good, shall we? lol.

So, there you have it. First step on the road to recovery. I will hopefully know my Upper GI results next Thursday and then work on getting physically stronger as well. By the way, that went well on Wednesday despite the horrible fast they had me on. I became a little sick yesterday from the barium they had me take (sometimes my system takes 24-48 hours to feel the effects of things) but that only lasted an hour or so. Today I'm still trying to get my stomach back on the 2-3 hours eating schedule my doctor has me on but it's manageable  :) I'm starting off Lent with a bang. I'm dealing with things that stress me out head on... but it's something I grateful for during this time.

Anyway, just wanted to share that. If it helps someone else with anxiety, I am willing to be open about my experiences. :)

I hope you all have a great weekend. If you have any prayer requests, send them my way. Seriously, I didn't have enough of them to offer up on Wednesday when I felt sick from the fast (borderline hypoglycemics FTW, lol). Even if they are general intentions without details, send 'em my way. :D

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #10

Say "hello" to my little ashes... and freckles. lol. Extreme close up done to hide the horrible hair day I had today. Also but I don't wear make-up so you see everything. Oh well, I have nothing to hide. ;)

This will be a short list (compared to the other posts) because I have a couple of things to do before I call it an early night.

The only thing I have to write about today is the shocker that Pope Benedict XVI has handed in his resignation. And cue another ugly crying face in 3... 2... 1... When I heard about it for the first time, I was en route to Disneyland. I checked into Twitter and saw that he was trending. Didn't know why so I asked. Needless to say, I was left speechless. And then I cried. A lot. Silently but ugly crying face was in full effect. In true Emmy fashion, I looked out the window while I cried. I don't like crying in public and there were three other people in the car with me. Thankfully I wasn't driving. As expected, I didn't enjoy my trip to Disneyland but that's okay. None of my mattered at that point. All I knew was that my Pope (I'll get to this in a second) was stepping down and I was upset.

When I say that Pope Benedict XVI is my Pope, I mean that I returned to the Faith a year after he became our Pope. I was "Catholic" (ignorant about my Faith and didn't even think about it) when Bl. Pope John Paul II died. I remember the exact moment in which I read an online "journal" entry by the brother of a young man I was close to, talking about how he was waiting to see the "white smoke" appear to indicate that we Catholics had a new Pope... and how (sparing y'all expletives) he didn't understand why he even cared about it because he wasn't even religious; he was an atheist (if I remember correctly). I remember feeling very offended by what he said, not even knowing that I would revert almost a year and a half later. I always liked Pope Benedict XVI... even when I was away from the Faith. To this day, he's held a special place in my heart and it pains me to see him go.

Despite my own feelings about it, I can understand why he's stepping away. I get it. I don't like it but I understand why he's doing it. I thank him for everything he's done for us in the past eight years. He will always be my Pope. I will always be a card carrying member of the Papa Bene fan club. Would I have Pope Benedict XVI dreams if I weren't? ;)

Anyway, I haven't read everything on what's going to happen, what Papa Bene said (crazy last couple of days), so I can't expand on it. Maybe for next What I Learned Wednesday. To tie this into what I learned about the Faith: I had no idea it had been hundreds of years since the last time a Pope resigned. No clue. To be honest, I didn't even think it was still an option. I just assumed that modern Popes continued until they passed. See? I did learn something new this week. lol.

I'll stop writing before I look even more pathetic than I do now. lol. I still have many years of Catholicism to catch up on so have patience with me. ;)

You know the drill: if you have any prayer requests, send them my way! ;)

I'll write about my Ash Wednesday experience hopefully tomorrow. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The One in Which I Talk About Love, Romance, and My Future Husband

I know, I'm sort of breaking my rules about not mentioning this side of my personal life (which I guard very closely because I'm a firm believer of not involving other people in your relationships) but you will soon see that I'm still keep my policy of not naming names or getting too into deep about my own personal experiences. It's not just for the blog either. As I've said in the past (and it's still true), friends joke that I will be married and they won't know until I get back from the honeymoon. lol. I wouldn't be surprised if the title of this blog post made some of them read this post, thinking I was finally giving a grand announcement (nyet, y'all). lol.

I'll tell you what inspired this post: rants about Valentine's Day and about single. I am going to be one of the (seemingly) few bloggers who is not going to do that. I actually don't mind being single for Valentine's Day. I didn't even really notice it last year because I was working on my Senior Thesis. I did however make that sweet ladybug on the right that is the picture for this post because my morning class was cancelled for the day and some friends were making them for fun between classes. lol.

I guess I don't mind not having a "Valentine" because I don't just think about romantic love on the day. Yes, it's a day set aside for love and romance but I also think about the love I have for my family, friends, and God (and Mama Mary... and the saints...) In fact, this year a few of us single Catholic gals and I are exchanging cards for the day. We're all in the same boat and while we may not have a special someone (in a romantic sense), it's nice to be receive something from a friend to know that you are loved... even if it's only platonic love. Love comes in so many ways and I think that many of us single folks occasionally forget that.

I don't want you guys to think that I am entirely emotionless; I'm not. I have been told that I have a big heart and I'm definitely a hopeless romantic but I am also very careful with my heart. While being single does feel lonesome at times, and I have occasional moments where I wished that my future husband would stop and ask for directions already (so he can get to where I am, lol), I know that it's all in God's timing. I don't give Him a deadline, even if I do feel the pressure from family and friends to settle.

Do you guys remember that I wrote about a special vocation project a few months ago? Well, I'll tell you what it was/is. In Fall of last year, I decided to write letters to my future husband. Not the "we're going to be like soooo in love" or "well, there's this guy I like; I hope he's you" kind. It's more about my prayers and thoughts for his eyes only. While I may not know who he is yet, I do want the best for him in the meantime. Every night I ask Our Blessed Mother to keep him safe from temptation, lust, and other dangers he may encounter. If we have yet to meet, I hope that when we meet, we'll be able to build our relationship based on honesty, compassion, communication, faith, etc. If we already know each other, I pray that our friendship is strengthened while we figure things out. Like I said, I don't know who he may be but that doesn't mean that I can't pray for him.

To all you single men and women, I'll give you this Valentine's Day challenge: pray for your future spouse. Don't pray "God, just send me my future spouse already! I'm tired of waiting!" Pray that they are kept out of harm. Pray for specific intentions like finding someone who will make you grow in love of Christ or that you find someone who won't mind your crazy screaming during football (soccer) matches in the early morning hours. Okay, that last one will probably just be me. lol. Just pray. We pray for our families, friends, and even strangers' prayer requests, so why not for the person God has in store for you?

If you're single, don't focus on the lack of romantic love. No Debbie Downers. Please. Think about the love you get from your family and friend. Think about the greatest love we've already received. Christ didn't die on the cross because he thought we were simply nifty; he died for our sins because he loved (and still loves) us so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of our salvation. Want to do something special for a special someone even though you're single? Thank Him for everything He's given you. See? You do have someone special after all. ;)

Anyway, just wanted to write this. I am sure you've heard this all before but I still wanted to give y'all something to think about (or give a second thought to). :D

That's it for now. I don't know when I'll blog again. I might try this weekend (if I have anything to write). I have my Upper GI x-ray test on Wednesday so I don't know if I'll blog by then but I will definitely let y'all know how it goes. I hope it gives us answers to what's been going on with my stomach these past couple of months. I still say ulcer but shall see. I am optimistic that everything will go well. :)

Oh! If you have prayer requests, send them my way. I heard the thing they make you drink for the Upper GI is gross so I can offer it up. lol.

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #9

I promise these things will be more faith focused once Lent begins.

1) I'm sure you've all heard about the letter Archbishop Gomez sent out to the Los Angeles Archdiocese regarding Cardinal Mahony and his role in covering up the decades worth of sexual abuse cases. I won't get into it as it would take me a long time (and some rents)... and it'll be nothing that you haven't heard or said yourself. I just want to say three simple things. First, thank goodness we have Archbishop Gomez. When it was announced that he was to take over the archdiocese upon Cardinal Mahony's retirement, I was excited because I knew he would do great things. Though this is a painful thing to have to do (even my parish priest had a hard time getting through the letter when he read it to us at the end of Mass last weekend), I believe he's handling it well. Second, as per his request, I'll be praying for the victims and all involved. I hope you all will too. Third, of course the media is having a field day. I've learned to tune out the MSM because of how warped and anti-Catholic it can be. I hope that people will have enough common sense to actually look at the documents and not judge the Catholic Church harshly (one person who does evil does not represent us all) but we all know that this will only fuel anti-Catholic sentiments. Pray for the Church as a whole because things will only get worse before they get better.

2) I get email updates when some bloggers upload new posts (it's easier for me to get them in my inbox) so I don't miss the good stuff. One of my favorite posts this week was Dr. Taylor Marshall's post on who the first photographed saint was. I always thought it was St. Therese (whose photograph was the first saint photo I myself ever saw) but it seems to be St. Bernadette. I'm a very visual person and I like to focus on an image (such as a crucifix, a painting of a mystery while praying the Rosary, etc) when I read or pray so I really enjoyed the post. I don't know much about a couple of the saints mentioned in the post so it'll be good to learn about them in the next couple of weeks. I'm often (half jokingly) called an encyclopedia for patron saints but I sometimes don't know the saint's actual story so that's a new goal for me. Also, new trivia for my Catholic files. Really, I have a box and files organized with Catholic things. Catholic nerd, party of one right here. lol.

3) And speaking about Catholic geek moments, I realized that I am behind on my reading... well, Catholic book reading. I've been reading Jane Austen novels or books inspired by Jane Austen because I wanted a light break from work (thank goodness freelance writing work hasn't dried up again). During Lent I think I will restrict myself to reading only Catholic books. I have a ton in my "to read" list... just sitting on my bookshelf. Some of those books have been there for years and I still haven't gotten to them. After I finish reading these two last Jane Austen books (since Lent begins next week), I'll start on them. I'll be done with one of them sooner than the other because it's so incredibly condescending and awful. And before you say anything, I finish what I start so I'm finishing this darn book. I'll be in Catholic nerd heaven during Lent (one week to go!) so these #WILW posts will be better then. ;)

Anyway, this was short and pretty straight forward. I almost forgot to write today but I saw Alex wrote his so I was reminded. Thanks, Alex! lol.

I should make myself some dinner (haven't had anything to eat since before I went on my walk earlier today) so... see ya. lol. ;)

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

Giving Thanks Before Things Happen

As my fellow 54 day Rosary novena prayer warriors and I embarked on the second half of the novena yesterday, I had a moment when I realized something that gave me a new appreciate for the novena. No, this is not the first time I've prayed the novena. In fact, this is my third time. However, there is something about this particular time that has made me more aware of what I am praying. Let me explain.

Last night (as I seem to have preferred to do the novena at night when I pray the rest of my nighttime prayers), I started on the first day of the Thanksgiving portion of the novena. If you've never done this particular novena, it's 27 days of Petition and then 27 days of Thanksgiving. While I have already begun to see that a couple of my petitions are slowly being answered, nothing has been concrete. What the second part of the novena does is have you give thanks for the things you have asked for; you're thanking Our Blessed Mother for things which may or may not have been answered yet. This seems like a beautiful thing to do. It is putting trust in Our Blessed Mother (as our intercessor) and God and thanking them for your answered petitions. What you get may not be what you want but you'll get what you need from them.

All of this got me thinking: how many times have I personally given thanks to God for things before they happen? When I ask a friend for a favor, I always thank them ahead of time... so why not do the same thing when I pray about a particular petition? Furthermore, why not give thinks for the things I have been given (whether I deserved them or not) just to show my appreciation. God gives us so much yet we fail to thank Him. Raise your hand if you're guilty of this as well. Go ahead... I can't see through the computer so I won't know if you're admitting it or not. lol. Thankfully, we can change this.

As many of you long time readers may remember, I started a tradition of adding things instead of giving things up for Lent. I don't have any really bad habits to give up other than maybe tweeting way too much when I'm bored. lol. Last year it was doing an act of charity every day (harder than it sounds when you stay at home most days). This year I'm adding to the daily act of charity by giving thanks for one thing I usually take for granted... and I'm going to try to make sure that I don't repeat any of them throughout Lent. I like to challenge myself like this at times. :) Bring on it, bro.

Anyway, just random thoughts I wanted to share before I logged offline for the day. Yes, I have been limiting my time online after the headaches from last week. According to Goodreads widget, I'm a book (soon to be two) behind on my 48 books in a year goal so I'm trying to catch up on that. I've been able to catch up to my Catechism in a Year emails by limited my time online (or at least limiting my time on social networks) which is always a good thing. Productivity FTW! :D

I hope y'all have a great start of week. If you have any prayer requests, don't forget to let me know. :D

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