Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #18: Oops!, Ahh! and Eesh! Edition

These are actually from last week but since I didn't post anything last week (and haven't for a week due to busy schedule and illness), I am using them for this week's post.

1. You know how I love futbol (soccer) to the point where it's the only sport that I watch (well, aside from the occasional rugby match)? Well, when we cancelled cable in March I had to say goodbye to my beloved Fox Soccer (which is now defunct anyway) and other sports channels that aired live matches. I looked into paying to watch them online but they were either super expensive for only a handful of matches or I had to search for links from shady websites. I wondered (although I already had a feeling I knew the answer) about whether it would actually be considered a sin to watch live matches on dubious links. I asked Fr. John Flynn over at XT3 and the answer was a definite: YES! Sorry, fellow Catholics who offered to send me shady website links. Fr. Flynn quotes the CCC for y'all which states that "2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another's property against reasonable will of the owner." Any football (yes, that's what I call "soccer") fan knows that the FA, MLS, and other franchises give certain networks rights to air the matches (for a fee, of course) and that those networks retain the rights to air the matches. So by watching matches on feeds without permission of the networks is, in fact, a form of steal. You might've not been the one who hijacked the live feed but you're still watching it without permission. You're an accessory to the crime. I haven't watched any matches on shady links in ages but I have in the past so I need to add that to my list of things I need to confess this coming weekend when I head to the confessional. Oops!

2. Something I didn't know (hello, poorly Catechized and no good formal education on Catholicism) that most English-language Bibles aren't complete. Yes, I knew that Protestant/Christian Bibles left out many books that the Catholic Church still has but I didn't know that not all Catholic Bibles were complete. Yes, you read that right: things are missing! In my Catholic snobbery (yes, I'm a bit of a snob regarding certain things; sorry, I'm woman enough to own up to it), I've preferred the Douay-Rheims version but one that I don't actually own a copy (aside from the copy in my iPieta app). My spiritual director gave me the heads up that the versions of the Bible (while Catholic) were incomplete and pointed out the fact that, if I looked it up (and I did), I would see that only 9 of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23. I compared it to the Douay-Rheims version and, yes, it's true. The DR has all 12 listed while the other Bible I primarily used had only 9. Guess it's time to save up and get myself a more complete version. Side note: The Ignatius Study Bible was also recommended but much more expensive. Ahh!

3. As some of you may know, I made the official announcement regarding my MA decision on Twitter.

I did decide on getting my Master of Arts in Theology (I even finished most of my application to my top choice) but I've been getting hit with horrible indecision and anxiety since then. The anxiety is bad... to the point where I'm suffering both physically and mentally. I'm not sure if it's a spiritual attack or if it's just a sign that this is not the path I should take so please say a little prayer for me while I try to figure that out. All I know is that my heart says Theology and my head says Speech-Language Pathology... and my anxiety says "forget it, lady!" Eesh!

Anyway, it's super hot and muggy today and the laptop is burning my thighs so I need to shut this baby (laptop) down and go jump in the water to cool down a bit.

I hope y'all have had a great week thus far and continue to have a good (or have a better) week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Discernment Mambo: Indecision

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am currently discerning both my career and vocation once again. When I think I have it all figured out, something happens and I end up rethinking my decisions. It's a vicious, never ending cycle (thinking, rethinking, doubting decisions, more thinking) that happens every time I make a big decision. It's who I am but thankfully I am not doing it on my own this time around.

I have been thinking about the career part more than the vocation part because the applications for grad school will go up in a few weeks and I want to apply early. It's a huge decision for me -- whether I will get my Master of Arts in Theology or a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology -- and I am not going to leave any question unanswered. It's not easy, as no big decisions are. Some days I think that doing something like Youth Ministry or working for a parish would be best for me but, in all honesty, most days I think that being a Speech Therapist would be best for me. I have to take into consideration what will both utilize the gifts God gave me as well as what would fulfill His will for me.

I think that I might be dismissing an MA in Theology because of how much I hated my experience as a Religious Studies undergrad. I don't have to tell most of you; a good number of you have been reading this blog for a long time and/or at least know that I attended a "CINO" (Catholic in Name Only) college in which they taught liberation theology, ragged on then Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI, and made my life miserable for being the "tradition" (read: orthodox) student who made them uncomfortable with my unwillingness to be swayed to their side of thinking... and for speaking up (when I got the chance) on my beliefs. It sort of ruined it for me. I know all schools aren't like that but it was hard for me. I used to cry when I was at home because of how I was treated and because of the atrocities I heard during lectures. I even cried during lectures. That bad.

At the same time, I am not the same girl I was when I decided to get my BA in Religious Studies. I wanted to get it because I didn't know much about my faith and I wanted to share everything I learned with others, especially the young (though older people were the ones with whom I usually had these conversations with). I've seen that I don't need to be in a parish or a Catholic school (though I wouldn't be opposed to it) to always do God's will and/or evangelize.

I've been thinking of what I can do with an SLP M.Sc. My mom's doctor told me (when I mentioned it to her) that she thought it was an excellent decision for me and that I could use it to "continue (my) ministry." I wasn't sure how she meant that so I started thinking about it. Maybe, if I work hard and get the opportunity, I can afford to offer free SLP services to those who can't afford it but need it, especially the poor that go to parishes to ask for help. Maybe I can use my degree to help priest, religious brothers, and religious sisters who have had strokes with their speech therapies. I wouldn't charge them for it; it would be my way of giving back and thanking them for all they've done for us and for God. There are possibilities for me to be able to give back if I choose that career path.

The thing is that I am not sure what God wants me to do... and that's what my spiritual director is trying to help me figure out. Since novenas and prayers were helping but not getting me too far, he suggested to try the Ignatian discernment process. It's been slow but I am getting somewhere. I've been praying both the Little Office and the Liturgy of the Hours to help give me peace and de-stress and it has also been helping. Still, it will be an interesting and difficult couple of weeks (and months, since I still have my vocation -- married vs single life -- to discern again) so if y'all can spare a prayer for me at some point, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Anyway, this has been on my mind lately (and especially today) so I thought I'd write it all out and share. :)

And now, I should go try to get through the library books that are due this week. :)

I hope y'all had a great weekend and have a wonderful week. :)

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #17: Love Thy Neighbor Edition

I promise that Anne Shirley breaking a slate over Gilbert Blythe's head is relevant to this post.

I don't know about y'all but I have really nosy neighbors. They want to know (and usually do find out) everyone's business. Most of the time they also exaggerate and/or create gossip out of thin air. As someone who likes her privacy, I get really annoyed with it and with questions about where I'm going or what I'm doing (or who's that guy?!). That annoyance has landed me in the confessional a couple of times so I thought to myself this week "why not look at what it says about 'loving thy neighbor' and write a post about that?" So, here we are... and here we go.

1. In Matthew 22:39 it clearly states that: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"... which isn't easy when said neighbor is doing something that's just plain mean. Example: A neighbor of ours told me that my mother had spoken ill of me. This neighbor isn't exactly known for being truthful 100% of the time and I knew that my mother hadn't said anything of the like but I still brought it up to my mom. Not in a confrontational manner but in a "hey, mom, Mrs. *insert surname* said that you had something this about me." Mom was, unsurprisingly, upset that someone she thought she could trust had said such a falsehood. It was just mean. Who would lie to potentially create friction in the household of "dear friends"? Well, who am I to judge the kind of person who would do that? Sure, I don't like it but it gives me no right to turn around and judge them and their actions. Do I want to go to confession for having uncharitable thoughts or seeking revenge on this neighbor? Not really. A smile, a cordial greeting, and straight to my house or car is all they're getting from me these days.

2. I've had to remind myself that, while anger is a natural human emotion, one must not dwell or act upon it. Not that I've acted upon it but I used to beat myself for getting angry at what my neighbors would say about me and/or my mother. Once, there was a rumour going around that my mother was involved with a former building manager... when it reality the guy was actually trying to court me. Yes, I used to the words "court me." We knew who started the rumour. It was the same person who, on a trip to the ER because I had an allergic reaction to food, said that I was "dying" and "throwing up" and a whole bunch of other things that were not true. I was livid. This woman who had said that I had been more ill than I was was also besmirching my mother's name and reputation for no good reason. During times like this I have to remind myself: "Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger" (Ephesians 4:26) as well as "Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19) So, even though I am uber ticked off at times when neighbors try to make up rumours about myself and my mom, I'm learning to say "Okay, my anger is justified but I have to let it go and focus elsewhere."

3. The biggest thing I learned this week was that I really didn't know where everything I wanted to add to this blog was in the Bible. I knew that it spoke about loving our neighbors, turning the other cheek, not acting in revenge, and about gossip itself but I am so out of touch with reading the Bible that I had to look them up (also looked in my Catechism). In fact, there was so much material that I couldn't fit it all in this blog post. However, it also dawned on me that I may not be the only one. So, a challenge: look it all up in the Bible. If you have a problem with a nosy neighbor or one who likes to slander folks, look up what the Bible says and then pray for them. There are a number of reasons why these neighbors may be acting the way they do but it all boils down to them hurting themselves. Their words and actions hurt them more than they hurt those who are the objects of their gossip and rumours. Just think of what it means for their own soul. Pray for them and pray for patience for yourself if it really bugs you. My go-to prayers when I am trying to keep uncharitable words from coming out of my mouth is to say "Good gracious, give me patience" and "My God, have mercy on their souls."

Oh, I'll slip and gripe ("Ugh, why don't they mind their own business?! My business doesn't concern them") but that's what lands me in the confessional so I'm trying to get better at it. I'm nowhere near perfect but I have to remind myself that when (as my British friends like to say) I'm being a "stroppy cow", I have to be kinder than I feel. Not always easy but not impossible either. :)

I should also note that you can say something to the neighbors about their actions but I'm the "avoid conflict and arguments at all costs" kind of gal so that's why I wrote this post as someone who would rather turn a cheek and be silent. Trust me, in my situation it would be best to keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, that's it for this week's edition of What I Learned Wednesday. It's something that's been occurring more often so I thought I'd write out my thoughts/feelings.

And now I have a date with a cold glass of water (hello, summer heat wave) and a snack before I have some girl time with a good friend. :)

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

*Gasp* There's Life Offline!

I have been Facebook free since Saturday and I honestly don't miss it one bit. I tried opening up Spotify today and it automatically reactivated my Facebook account... against my wishes. I immediately deactivated it again because, really, I've been so happy without that darn thing. I'm sharing this little fact in case any of you have your FB profiles connected to Spotify and want to deactivate your FB accounts later on. I'm going to have to create a separate account (and, sigh, start over on my novel playlists) but I'd rather do that than keep Facebook up.

Well, what do you know? There's life offline! I know. I can't believe it either. ;) I actually made a "to-do" list for this month to make sure I always had something to do at all times. I'm the kind of person who doesn't "do" being lazy (hey, time wasting online was still doing something, lol) so I am glad I gave myself a list of things to do. At last count, there were 48 items on the list and 17 had been crossed off. Of course the list will grow as I cross things off of the list and find new things to add to it.

One thing I learned from my time away from most social networks (I've been spending less time on Twitter, too) and from making my list is that my priorities prior to the change were horribly out of whack. I was spending less time in prayer, less time doing things I really needed to do (I'm playing catch-up on a couple of things right now), and more time procrastinating and, well, fitting the stereotype of the lazy Millennial. While I actually did work and ran the household (errands, budget, care of, etc), I was still not taking advantage of the precious time I currently have. After all, this is the first time I've had time to myself and this won't last forever if my vocation is of wife and mother. Making my list and really spending time offline has put things back into perspective for me.

I've added prayer to my day in the form of praying both the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary AND the Liturgy of the Hours. I was previously only doing the Little Office but I have found that I get the most out of doing both. Once I get my schedule back on track (sleeping hours are currently messed up) and can do the two without scrambling on time, I will add the Rosary and Chaplet of the Divine Mercy back into my routine. With the amount of free time I currently have, I can definitely do it. It's just going to take some getting used to. I've already figured out that I can do the Rosary and Chaplet while driving every day but I won't do it all at once. Baby steps. :)

What else have I achieved in 4 days of no Facebook and little time online?
- Hung up curtain rods and heat blocking curtains
- Written and mailed a couple of snail mail letters
- Paid off bills and student loan either on time or super early
- Really gotten in touch with friends I was "in touch" with on FB
- Done a couple of favors for neighbors
- Helped mom achieve something she's talked about for years
- etc etc.

It doesn't seem like much but it's little victories that remind me that, like cable (which I don't miss either; 5 months cable-free!), Facebook was completely unnecessary. I'm really much happier and stress-free, which was the whole point of the deactivation. I'm not saying that I won't miss it at all but I definitely have things that remind me that I made the right decision.

So that's my little update on how things are going sans Facebook. It's still early but so far so good and, bonus!, I've gotten a chance to use hammers and screwdrivers, which I love. Yes, I not-so-secretly love assembling things and doing home projects. Okay, and maybe I love tinkering around the car as well. I am my father's daughter after all. ;)

That's it for now. I'm trying to stay offline as much as possible, especially with my anxiety not being the best for the past week and a half. I'm going to try to come up with three things for tomorrow's "What I Learned Wednesday" post (yes, I am still doing those; it's on my list) and try to cross at least three more things off of my list before I hit the hay. ;)

I hope y'all had a great weekend and are having a fab week thus far. :D

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Now You Can Subscribe to the Blog!

Just a quick little post to let y'all know that you can now subscribe to the blog. I know, I know, it took me a long time to "get with it" but better late than never. It's right under the blog's archive on the right hand column.

With my FB profile getting deleted in less than 4 days (scheduled for before Saturday Vigil Mass), I wanted to cover all my bases as far as how I share new blog posts goes.

And now I must go back to subscribing via email (yes, I'm doing it, too) to all the blogs I enjoy. I used to get the updates on Facebook but since I won't have that luxury anymore, I'm doing it the old fashioned way. ;)

Send me any prayer requests you may have... and someone remind me to update this blog again if you see nothing new by Friday. ;)

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

Friday, August 2, 2013

Taking the Plunge and Deleting Facebook

I've decided to take the plunge and delete my personal Facebook profile. If you've read this blog long enough you know that I've taken breaks from it before but I have always gone back. This time, however, I am going to say goodbye to Facebook for good. (For the record, the blog's FB page will stay up with some help.)

It's not going to be easy. I've had a Facebook profile since 2004, when it was called The Facebook and only college students with valid student emails could sign up for it. Elitist noses up in the air in those days. lol. I've deleted FB once before (back in the summer of 2006 during the days of my reversion) but I was struggling keeping in touch with friends so enter FB profile 2.0 which I've had since November 2006. I'm so used to it that it's going to take a lot for me to not cave and change my mind or make a new profile and start over. But when I do feel the little "c'mon, get another profile" temptation, I'll just go read Matt Warner's post on The Real Reason to Quit Facebook to remind me of why it's a good idea to stay FB-free.

Besides the reasons listed on Matt's post (many of which are also my reasons), I have my own (long) list that starts and ends with "need to cut back on the gossip, negativity, and time wasting." Whether or not I engage in gossip, it's still ever-present. I've asked to be kept out of "the loop" and I still get it. Same with rants (which is so easy to do on Facebook and I've been guilty of in the past) and the like. So easy to "catch up" with friends by seeing their statuses, photos, etc. without ever talking to them. It's so easy so find games to waste some time. Trust me, I've spent a lot of time on the Journey of Moses game when I could've done other, more productive, things. Also, I'm way too overstimulated online. I've been feeling somewhat overwhelmed for the past couple of months and I really want to cut back and retrain my brain to not be in constant need of something new to do every couple of minutes.

I have to admit that a big reason why I sort of don't want to (though I still will) delete my profile is because of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), which apparently many people experience. Social networks are such a big part of my life since most of my friends are out of state (I am one of the few of my friends who stayed behind in L.A. after the age of 21) but it shouldn't be this way. With freelance writing and working from home, a huge chunk (most of) my socializing was done via FB and Twitter. I've honestly just gotten lazy and I don't like it. While I am not ready to give up on Twitter just yet (I have been using it more and more for networking these days), I am so ready to get out of my little cocoon and out into the "real world". This presents a new problem (I am terribly shy offline) but I really cannot rely on social networks to make/keep friendships.

I've already notified my friends on FB that I'll be shutting it down on the 10th (giving friends who rarely use it to get back to me with updated email and snail mail addresses). It'll give me a good excuse to make plans to actually see (face-to-face) those I haven't seen in weeks / months and to send birthday / Christmas cards via snail mail. I am a huge fan of writing letters by hand so this will actually be an added perk.

For those of you who have done it, any tips on how to brush off the temptation to go back to it? How long was your adjustment period? I know it won't get easy but I know it's also not impossible. If I can get rid of cable (though very difficult to not have it these days, especially with the Premier League and Scottish League seasons beginning this month), I can get do without Facebook after a while.

Anyway, just wanted to jot down my thoughts and explain things a little better so I don't keep repeating myself on FB, Twitter, and email.

Now I'm going to go enjoy Jamie Cullum's newest album and either work on my novel or read a book. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!