Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 6: Happiness Is... Edition

-- 1 --
Happiness is... my spiritual direction meeting going well. Yesterday's meeting made me feel better about the decisions I have made regarding my career path and vocation. I was able to work through some things that were stopping me before and now I'm at peace with my decisions. The feeling of tranquility is a welcome change after three previous of stress and crying jags.

-- 2 --
Happiness is... choosing to do Speech-Language Pathology for the right reasons. I was worried that I would be choosing this path for the wrong reasons but, ultimately, I remembered why I wanted to choose this new path. Once my career in the field is established, I will go after the Master's in Theology. Like (new mama) Julie and my spiritual director said, I am young enough to still do both. And, as my SD jokingly said, I don't look old enough to teach Theology just yet. lol.

-- 3 --
Happiness is... feeling reassured that my initial discernment of being called to be a wife and mother some day seems to be the right one. I figured out what was stopping me from really getting out there and start dating again. Simply put, I got too comfortable being single. Y'all know that I don't like blogging about this part of my life but I will make a quick exception this time. I purposely took myself out of the "dating market" because my focus for a long time was on helping others and not so much on doing things for myself. Lately I've been feeling like it's time to go forward in that area. And that's all you're getting. ;)

-- 4 --
Happiness is... having fun freelance writing assignments this week. Though I had more work than usual, the assignments were quite short and easy to write so I had a lot of free time on my hands. This normally doesn't happen. I'm usually either swamped with work or I have no work at all. I like the balance I had this week and hope that it continues.

-- 5 -- 
Happiness is not... realizing that the Year of Faith is almost done and I am way behind on my Catechism reading. The project of reading the entire Catechism in a single year was going well until they pulled the plug for legal reasons and had to start using the YouCat version. I personally don't like the YouCat version too much so I'm trying to go through with the original plan. I'll get there. My goal for October is to finish reading it before the month ends.

-- 6 --
Happiness is not... having insomnia for the past week. I honestly don't know why I can't fall asleep early. I don't think I've ever had this problem either. The only day I was zonked out before midnight was on the night that baby Grace (Julie's cutie pie daughter) was born. I ended up missing the text when she was born because I was so exhausted that night. Of course. Besides that one good day, I've struggled to fall asleep before 1:30 a.m., despite still having the 4:30 a.m. wake up time. I even struggle to nap before 5:30 a.m., which is just weird for me. No me gusta.

-- 7 --
Happiness is... getting a ton of snail mail from friends. Y'all know how to make a girl happy. Kendra's little guy, Henry, even sent artwork he made for me. I posted the picture up on Twitter and my Instagram if anyone wants to see his mad art skills. Oh, and P.S., if any guy ever wants to woo me, this is how to do it. I'm a sucker for a well written letter.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

And now I'm off to finish my last writing assignment for the week. :D

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I Learned Wednesday #19: Saints in Love Edition

I finally finished this book (Saints in Love by Carole Hallundbaek) on Monday night (whoo!) and now I can do a sort-of review through my What I Learned Wednesday post. I usually just post 3 short things I learned about the Faith during the week but there's so much to cover that I'm going to make them a little bit longer than usual.

1. I may have a reputation of being a sort of "patron saint encyclopedia", but I really don't know much about the many of the saints' lives. I may know who is the patron saint of specific things but I don't know their life stories. I loved the last chapter of the book, which focused on the relationship between St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. I even sent this note to myself that night, before I forgot:

"It is a strong yet peaceful desire to learn about and from them (St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal) as I think they may be the ones who will be amongst those who will help me in my next chapter in life."

I was reading about all the wonderful things that all the saints featured (St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine of Siena and Pope Gregory XI, and St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal) had accomplished but I knew little about their actual lives. The book did cover the basics but I did know the basics of about half of them so it wasn't anything new for me. Now I have a desire to learn more, especially on the ones that inspired me this week.

2. I like learning about my saints without having sex come into it. Yes, it's been established that I'm a "prude" (and proud) but I don't actually see sex as a bad thing. In a Theology of the Body way, it's a good thing (from what I've read). In a lustful, bow-chicka-wow-wow way, not so much. There were a couple of times that I felt the author was trying way too hard to bring sex into the relationship between the two saints she was featuring. I'm not saying that the Evil One hadn't tempted them (I don't know that) but it wasn't even that. I actually read some parts to my friend Delaney (when she was visiting a couple of weeks ago) and she agreed that it was all just unnecessary and uncomfortable. As someone who has a lot of guy friends whom I respect and don't look at as more than brothers (and vice versa), I didn't appreciate some of the things that were written. It IS possible to have a friendship with a member of the opposite sex without any funny business.

That being said, there were some things about sex that the author talked about that I liked. There was a quote she added that I really liked; "Celibacy is not about never falling in love, it's about falling in love over and over and over again." (pg. 46) I understood and appreciate that. Like I said, sex is not a bad thing. I'm obviously not talking from experience but I've read enough on the Sacrament of Marriage to not be (entirely) freaked out about it. lol. Just, please keep it away from my saints that were friends and respected each other. Please. No need to bring it up unnecessarily.

3. I might have found the right Third/Lay Order for myself thanks to this book. I've looked into (but only superficially) a plethora of Third/Lay Orders but none have really touch me the way the Salesian spirituality did. I haven't really learned much about it (other than they are called Salesian Cooperators) but what I did read made me think that it may be the right one for me. I still have to look into it but, as I have already said, I was really inspired by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal... and it's made me feel more confident and at peace about my decisions regarding my career choice and my vocation. In fact, I think I'm very ready for whenever God feels I should start the next chapter in my life. :)

That's what I learned on my journey of learning more about myself and the Faith this week. Like I said in the beginning of this post, there's so much to cover that it would be impossible to do so in a single blog post. I will say that I both liked and didn't like this book for the reasons I talked about. I learned a lot about myself, about the saints, and about the saints relationships with each other and with God.

I can't say whether I recommend this book or not. I mean, I liked a good portion of it but I really had a hard time getting through parts of it.

And now I'm going to go keep my eye on my cell phone because I'm on Bebe Baldwin watch and I don't want to miss anything. Please keep Julie in your prayers because it looks her baby wants to meet her and her husband soon!

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 Things You Might've Not Known About This Nerd

I have done this twice before and like to revive the tradition every two years-ish. The first one was written in 2009 and the last one was written in late 2011 so I think it's time to do one again, especially since I have a ton of new readers. So, without further ado, some things you might've not known about me.

1. At my graduation last year, I walked across the stage with my head down out of sheer panic. Those who have met me in person know that I am really shy and quiet when I first meet people and that I hate any sort of attention on me. Since the graduation ceremony was held at the Universal Amphitheater (read: HUGE place), I was utterly uncomfortable with the attention. It didn't help that each graduate's walk across the stage was on a huge screen. When they called my name, I think I turned bright red, looked down at my feet, and walked off-stage as quickly as my little feet could carry me. lol.

2. I actually don't like being a freelance writer; I'd rather tutor than write... Don't get me wrong, I love writing. Any time I get a chance to write something Catholic related or work on something that I can create with my wild imagination, I am happy. Sadly, most of my assignments have been a pain to write and/or the clients have been very rude and picky. "300 words exactly, not one less or more or you'll do it over again." "You call that an article? You didn't follow my directions to a T so now I am docking your pay!" Yikes! The only non-Catholic ones that I've really enjoyed have been the articles I've written for H&R Block's blog.

3. ... but if I could make a living out of writing fiction/novels, I'd rather do that than anything else. I am way behind schedule on finishing my novel (and the sequel has actually been started) because I've had to rewrite a couple of things to make the plot flow better. Thankfully I have an amazing beta reader/editor (Kiera) who helps me immensely. If I can make a career out of writing, I'm hiring her as my editor... even if she doesn't know it yet. lol. Oh, and I think the Spotify playlists for the main characters are still up if you want to try to figure out their personalities.

4. My way of "handling" things such as violence and/or death is by feeling faint. This is a symptom of PTSD. Seeing my father die right in front of me and living in an apartment complex that has had both a bomb threat (for which everyone except my father and I were evacuated) and a shooting that took place in our section. Even if I know someone's death is fictional (like Lady Sybil's death on Downton Abbey), I will feel like I'm going to pass out. Now friends will know why I will pass on action films.

5. I like to have "themed" literary months. December will always be Jane Austen month for me. November is the Chronicles of Narnia month. October is Catholic saints month. etc. Sometimes the theme is "finish reading all the books you started but didn't complete" because I tend to read at least 2-3 books at a time and sometimes I am so busy with work that they get pushed aside for weeks at a time.

6. I make way too many references to my favorite books, shows, and songs when talking to people. The top 5: Jane Austen ("You have no compassion for my poor nerves!"), Doctor Who (usually about the TARDIS being drunk), Elf ("you sit on a throne of lies!"), Mean Girls (I don't actually love this movie but it's so quotable; "Four for you *insert first name* Coco. You go, *insert first name* Coco."), and The Philadelphia Story ("Oh, C.K. Dexter Haaaaaveeeen...").

7. My friends love to take me shopping when they need something because the Hufflepuff in me can find things very quickly. Yes, that was a Harry Potter/A Very Potter Musical reference... and, yes, I got sorted into the Hufflepuff house on Pottermore. I am a Hufflepuff. Anyway, I have a knack for finding things incredibly fast so my girlfriends like taking me to stores so that I can cut their shopping time by more than half. Last time I did it, I found an entire outfit for one of my good friends in less than 15 minutes... and through racks she'd already gone through. Before that, I was taken to a record store to find some awesome vinyls of the jazz/blues genre for a friend's boyfriend. I should charge for my services. lol. 

8. I drive like a grandma according to some people. I stick to speed limits and will rarely go faster and that drives some of my friends crazy. I'm sorry but the speed limits are there for a reason and if you've ever driven in L.A., you know why I'm super cautious when I drive. People be cray cray. There are way too many almost accidents in my part of L.A.

9. Though I stink at html, graphics, and all of that, I am very proud of myself for creating the blog's new look. Yes, I only customized a Blogger template and I didn't make the banner graphic (I only found the font and used it to write "Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer") but still. Better than nothing! I am happy because the previous layout was too cluttered for my taste (it was made that way by someone else). Let me have this little moment of happiness. Please. 

10. Every person and time in my life has a song unintentionally assigned to them. I'm very musically inclined (and I actually miss my guitar very much at the moment) so this isn't that much of a surprise. Every friend has a song that I associate them with. Every big event in my life has a song attached to it. However, no one knows what songs they are... and they may never know. ;) I will say that friends have done the same to me and the top 3 I get are "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, "Sing Sing Sing" by Benny Goodman, and "Georgia on my Mind" by Ray Charles -- all favorite songs of mine.

And now you know a little more about me. I am going to go work on my novel now since I have loads of free time tonight. :D Hope this wasn't too boring for y'all. 

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Don't Regret Taking Care of My Parents in My 20s

This week I had a fun (well, fun for me) freelance writing assignment about having compassion when taking care of aging loved ones. Even though I may still be in my 20s, most of you lovely readers know that I have my fair share of experience in this department. The assignment triggered memories about what it's like (and how much I've have to give up) taking care of my parents. Naturally I thought: hey, blog post! And now here we are. lol.

For those who are new to the blog, here's the gist of my story: I can't exactly pinpoint when my parents became a priority of mine. My dad was first diagnosed with cancer in my late teens. I ended up finishing part of my junior year and all of my senior year in a single semester. Yes, I completed 13 classes in 3 months, a year and a half ahead of schedule. I helped as much as I could while my dad did chemotherapy and went into remission. I didn't start college until I was 19. When the cancer came back (or I would get sick; anxiety/PTSD relapse), I would either go to school part time or take a semester off. The third and last the (now terminal) cancer returned, I fought Medi-Care and Medi-Cal from their constant threats of discontinuing my father's chemotherapy. I spent hours on the phone arguing with them instead of studying. I took a year off after his death to finish my degree. Somewhere towards the end of my senior year of college it became obvious that I would need to begin to take care of my mother. With her failing memory and health problems, I am going through my second round of taking care of a parent at a young age... and I don't regret it.

What I gave (and am giving) up: I gave up my "youth" in order to take care of my parents. From my late teens until now (my late 20s), I had to give up being "young" in the "young and irresponsible" sense. To be fair, a lot of things never appealed to me. Getting drunk? Going to Vegas? Staying out until the wee hours of the night? Going to parties every weekend? Nope, sorry; never my cup of tea. I also give up sleep on a daily basis as my mom doesn't drive and she starts work at 5 a.m. Yes, I get up that early to drive her to work.

I gave up my dream of attending school abroad. I never did make it to UBC (my dream school), Bath Spa University (where I was headed to prior to my father's second cancer diagnosis), nor Oxford where I was encouraged by a professor to apply. I gave up dating because I knew it wouldn't be fair to anyone to be put into that situation.

I am currently giving up my dream to move out of L.A. (seriously, someone get me out of here!) for grad school because of how things are with mom. If she hadn't started getting lost in our own neighborhood, I would've applied to UBC's Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology grad program... in a heartbeat.

Yes, I've given up (and will continue to give up) a lot... but it doesn't even matter to me. Everything I've ever given up doesn't compare to what I've gained.

I've learned how to differentiate between wants and needs. I've learned that, though it's harder, putting others needs before my own has made me happier. I think about it this way: I am only going to get one set of parents in my lifetime. I had a great father for the first 24 years of my life. I hope to have my amazing mother with me for many more years to come, even if that means giving up more in order to help her. I only have (and had with my father) one shot to thank them for everything they've ever given me and I can't think of a better way to do that than by helping them when they need it. I know a lot of people were disappointed in me for choosing Speech-Language Pathology instead of Theology because it was a way to help my mother instead of following my desire to immerse myself in Theology, but that's just how it has to be.

I sometimes think about my vocation. Though I have been pretty certain that it's being a wife and mother someday, I sometimes get these little moments of doubt. I start thinking "what guy is going to want to marry me when I have my mother to take care of?" We're sort of a packaged deal at this point. Where I go, she goes. While she won't interfere in that department (she has never meddled in any of my relationships), it's going to take some super amazing fella to accept me with her.

I get asked a lot of questions about my relationship with my parents and having had a lot of tough decisions to make as a young woman and I hope this post has answered many of them. :) P.S., Yes, I'm such an INFP... lol.

I should go eat something now. I haven't had lunch and it's almost 3 p.m. Oops. :)

I hope you all have a great weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

7 Quick Takes Vol. 5

Since I didn't get a chance to do a What I Learned Wednesday Post (though I did prepare; not enough time to write it), you're getting a 7 Quick Takes posts this week.

-- 1 --
As soon as I realized that I had less than a year to catch up on my reading (I have a feeling I won't be doing much non-school related reading in grad school), I started trying to play catch up. I finished North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell this week but I cannot finish Saints in Love by Carole Hallundbaek (which I can't find a link to? Is it out of print?). This was actually the topic of my WILW post this week. I'm going to post it next week because I need to sort of review it and I did learn a lot from it. There are just some things I find unnecessary. I read part of it to my friend Delaney when she came to stay with me for a couple of days earlier this month and she agreed that it was just awkward and there was absolutely no need for it. Let's see if some of you agree next week.

-- 2 -- 
I cannot believe the amount of feedback I received from my The Fear of Not Being Holy; Having a Secular Job post. I not only received a surprising amount of hits from various sources but I received the most comments outside of Blogger (mostly private Twitter messages) ever. It seems that there are several of us 20-somethings that are in the same boat with the similar thoughts and feelings. While I cannot say I'm an expert on the subject and thus cannot give advice, I am always here to hear y'all out. And, for the record, I have reached a decision but I'm going to talk to my spiritual director next week before I go forward.

-- 3 --
You know the freaky saint and good vs evil dreams I usually have (go ahead and search "dreams" on this blog)? I had one a couple of days ago that involved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, the Evil One, the Blessed Virgin Mary, a ton of holy water, something burning, and the singing of "Ave Maria." Without going into detail, let's just say that the Evil One was laughing and happy about something and then Mama Mary came and got rid of him. At the end I was holding a candle and singing "Ave Maria." It was kind of trippy and I woke up a little freaked out.

-- 4 -- 
Something I re-learned about myself this week: man, I've always been a crier... and that will never go away. lol. I know that some people view tears as a sign of weakness but I don't. It just reminds me that I care about people in general. That simple. At first I was a puddle due to stress and then I was a puddle because seeing people suffer (or seeing them cry out of sheer joy) makes me cry. I don't even know these people but my heart goes out to them.

-- 5 -- 
I hate how horrible MSM is. I'm glad I took that intro to Journalism class my freshman year of college so I could be better prepared and not to be completely uncharitable. Still, I was so irked by the spinning they did yesterday that I tweeted this in frustration.
I think that says it all.

-- 6 -- 
The St. Therese of Lisieux novena begins on Sunday. I am grateful for the roses she sent me (blue; yes, I picked a random color) recently because it helped me with my decision about grad school. She's been my buddy for years now and I am so grateful for all her help. I don't have a specific intention for myself so if you have something you'd like me to pray for, let me know!

-- 7 -- 
Watch this video. This is a great reminder of why it's best to get to know someone before you write them off due to their appearances... or vice versa.

And that's it for this round. ;)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Fear of Not Being Holy; Having a Secular Job

I've been stressing over the whole grad school situation for several weeks now. I keep going back and forth for many reasons but mostly because of fear and because I don't know what God's will for me is. In a sense, I am currently pretty aimless and I don't like it.

I've been chatting with many friends about my current situation because that's how I think best: talking and getting feedback. Most friends just listen and say "trust God" (which, no offense, but I am getting tired of hearing because it makes me feel like I'm a horrible person who doesn't already trust God). Some try to "steer me" (which feels a lot like forcing me) to go one way or another. When I vented (sorry!) to Julie about how stressed I was and how I felt pushed by some to pursue what they thought was best for me, she said some things (which will remain between her and I) that made realize something: I think I'm afraid of having a "secular" (read: not in a Catholic atmosphere) job because I think it'll somehow drag me away from God and from my wish to be as holy as possible.

I think this goes back to my time at the CINO college. I was in a "Catholic" place but it might as well been secular with the things that were taught (and not taught). The time between my father's death in 2009 and graduation day last year were some of the lowest points in my spiritual life. I went numb for almost an entire year after my father passed... and then I was surrounded by people who were actively trying to destroy orthodoxy with their heresies and blasphemies. It drove me to want to do something about it but I didn't (and still don't) know how. Teaching was an option... except that speaking in front of crowds makes me feel sick and I don't think I'm quite cut out to teach children that aren't my own as I have a fear of misguiding them with my lack of knowledge.

Since I've returned to the Church, 7 years ago, I've never imagined myself having a "secular" job -- one that wasn't somehow connected to the Church. Teaching was an option I never wanted. Being a Director of Religious Education is an option as well but I don't want that kind of leadership role (trust me, I'm a team-player / behind the scenes kind of gal). There are other options as well but none of them are really feasible for myself and my situation. I have my mother to take care of; her declining health is something that I can't push aside so that I can do what I want. Since she will seemingly retire early, it will be my job to provide for the two of us (especially if I never marry; more on this later). More fear of not being able to survive sets in, though I know God has always managed to get us out of financial scrapes.

And here's the second fear: I fear that if I do Speech-Language Pathology instead of Theology will make me a bad person because I would be choosing a career path that would help us financially and would potentially cut my off spiritually. THAT is where my biggest fear lies. When I first considered doing SLP, I didn't know what the salary was. I saw my good friend having problems finding a speech therapist for her son and it inspired me to look into it. Once money came into the picture, it made me start doubting myself; it made me think that I was doing it for the money and that scared the heck out of me.

Want to know what's been causing me stress the past couple of weeks? You just found out.

All of that has been swirling around in my mind for weeks and then wonderful Julie reminded me that being a speech therapist was a noble career. I love children and I want to help them so why not do it in a way that I best utilizes my gifts? I'm good one-on-one (better than in groups). I apparently have some sort of superhuman patience (lol). Even when I'm at the worst (anxiety, sick, etc), children make me push it all aside and focus on the good. I am reminded of how much I want to help people when I see someone who needs it. Nowhere in this way of thinking (which I had no problem with until the last couple of weeks) does money come into play. Julie helped remind me remember why I had chosen their career path and why I had pushed an MA in Theology aside. I may get it in the future but I am not sure this is the right path for me now... much to the disappointment of many people.

I wonder if the Enemy put this doubt into my mind; that I was doing it for the wrong reasons and that having a good paying job - which is not an easy job; lots of hard work - would somehow make me less holy. I wouldn't put it past him.

One more thing before I end this uber long post (sorry!): I can always find ways to incorporate my faith into my life while having a "secular" job. I still do intend to join a Third Order (the Carmelites are currently in the lead for this one, closely followed by the Dominicans). If I am able to, I do want to return to my daily Mass schedule before work (which I've seen many hospital workers do). If I do get married and have children, I will be able to teach them and pass along my beautiful faith to them. Who knows, maybe when I finally get my time management skills down pat, I could do some volunteer parish work. If people like St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati could chose paths that didn't have them working within a church setting and they still managed to lead holy lives, why can I attempt to do the same?

Anyway, this is all super long and I haven't had a proper lunch (though it is closer to dinner time) so I'm going to see what I can find to munch on while I plan dinner.

I hope y'all are having a good weekend thus far. :D

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'll Never Forget 9/11

Today's What I Learned Wednesday post is being held off until next week due to two things: 1) it being 9/11 and 2) I have some major PTSD symptoms (i.e. feeling faint) when I read anything on the day so I'm going to try to avoid being online as much as possible. Instead, I'm going to re-post my 9/11 experience, which was originally posted two years ago.

"Everyone who was alive or affected by the tragedy of 9/11 has their own personal story. My story is not one that is of importance but I still feel like sharing it because I am still affected by it, 10 years later.

On September 11, 2001 I was a 16 year-old who was going through some changes of her own. I had actually started independent study and moved away from traditional public school due to my anxiety which had begun to affect me the year before. Since I did my work at home, I woke up from a nightmarish dream that I have only shared with a handful of people. I knew something was wrong. Everything felt different; tense even. I walked into the living room and saw my older sister, who had been visiting us from Virginia, pacing the room in sheer panic. My little nephew, Alexander, who was a year old, knew that something was wrong and looked at my sister with worry. That's when I looked at the t.v. and saw that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At first I thought it might've been an accident... until I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I stood there in shock and I still remember thinking, in that moment, "all innocence is gone. Nothing will ever be the same again."

My sister sat down and tried to control herself while my dad tried to keep us calm. I looked at Alexander who looked like he wanted to cry from the desperation he saw on his mother's face and I sat down next to him, on the floor, and tried to distract him. I sang little songs and tried to look as happy as I could for his sake but inside I felt like crying. I would occasionally look up at the TV and see if there was anything else being reported. We got news that a plane hit the Pentagon and my sister nearly lost it. My brother-in-law worked not far from it and my sister desperately tried to get in contact with him. She couldn't get through but my dad gave her reassuring words that my brother-in-law would be fine. I looked back at Alex and I started to make silly faces whenever he could stop looking at my sister. I glanced up and saw the first tower collapse.

"Oh God, no. Please, no" was what I remember saying. I watched with tears in my eyes, as I watched. I hurried to my room so Alex wouldn't see me upset and tried to composed myself so I could get back to him. Though I was worried and afraid, my priority that day became my nephew and, as I reasoned it then, keeping him a happy child while he was young enough not to understand what had happened. I wanted him to enjoy his childhood for as long as possible because I knew things would never be the same. After a couple of minutes I returned and sat down next to Alex. I watched the second tower collapse in disbelief but at that point I was so overwhelmed that I was numb. I couldn't cry. I couldn't register everything that had just happened. I focused on Alex and his sweet little smiling face. My sister finally got a hold of her husband and we all relaxed a little bit. My sister was due to fly back to Virginia but she had to stay a few days which was fine with us. We did not want her traveling back so soon though she was desperate to return to her husband and my niece Wendy who were both back in Virginia. 

After the initial shock wore off and the feelings of anger and hurt began to subside, I remember being happily surprised by the kindness of strangers. For a few weeks, if not months, I remember how we all felt united. The attack had impacted us all, whether we knew someone who was killed or directly affected by the hijackings or not. At my mother's work, we held candlelight vigil a week after the events. We stood outside as the stars were starting to show and I saw that we were not the only ones. There were people on other streets doing the same; waving the flags and holding up signs of hope. As the cars passed by, we heard honks and cheers in solidarity. This one painful day seemed to bring out the best in people and I remember that it was that way for several months. My father bought two plastic American flags to put on his cars and I could remember the pride I felt.

The following months and years reflected how much we were all affected. My childhood sweetheart enlisted in the Navy two years later when we turned 18 as did my high school boyfriend (though he went into the Army). My friend Heather went into the Marines right after graduation and my best friend growing up, Rudy, was set on going into the Marines as well. 

Reflecting on the events, and watching the coverage on T.V., has made me very emotional today. I actually just read about Fr. Mychal Judge yesterday and I was dissolved into a puddle of tears. I have my moments where I can't seem to stop crying, especially when I see or hear the families of those who perished. It hurts me deeply, almost as if I were a part of their family. In one sense, I am. In other moments I am grateful to those who risked their lives and am once again reminded of the hope that has and will always remain in the wake of tragedy. I am reminded of two quotes Anne Frank wrote in her diary: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." and "I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains."

May God be with the families of those killed as well as those who remember what happened that day. May God bless us all. May we never forget, never lose hope, and may we never see something like it ever again."

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Don't Matter... and That's Okay

Since I'm having one of those days on which nearly everyone is taking all their anger and frustrations out on me, I thought I'd post something about a reoccurring theme in my life lately. The theme? "I don't matter... and that's okay." Now, before you get riled up or call me weak and spineless (yes, some of you have called me that on Twitter; don't worry, you've been forgiven), let me explain something... I don't care that I "don't matter." This is why...

I was raised as if I were an only child. The "spoiled child" stereotype was and wasn't true in my case. My parents taught me to work for everything I wanted. If I didn't do the work, I didn't get it. I wanted a Barbie? Okay, I needed to get good grades. I got my first job when I was very young (about 12-13), tutoring a little boy in math and English. I was 15 years-old when I got my first "real" job doing work-study during a summer at my former high school (the only year I was in public HS).

The spoiled part came when I was in college. My parents didn't want me working while I was in college. It was understandable; I was not used to it. Despite my anxiety, I worked in retail out of high school. I graduated a year and a half ahead of time (that itself was a lot of work; I completed part of my junior year and entire senior year in one single semester) so I had time before I started college. I was not used to working and going to school at the same time and my parents didn't want me to relapse. I ended up relapsing anyone (that's a whole 'nother story) and it took me a long time to finish college because of it. Still, I didn't do more than the odd freelance writing job during college. Scholarships brought in extra spending money but I taught myself to be frugal (which I am to this day). Still, I became a little selfish in college and it's something I've been working to get rid of since graduation.

This past weekend, one of my closest friends came to visit. It's been the first big thing for me since I became ill last summer. I had been so sick that I sort of fell back into my selfishness. Taking care of myself. Only looking out for myself (and my mom). If I didn't want to do something, I didn't do it. "Me, me, me, me, me." What a stereotypical Millennial, eh? I feel bad about this but then I remember that did need to focus on getting myself and my health back on track. Though I am still recovering (and I still have a bit of weight to gain to get back to where I was pre-illness; doctor's orders), I am at a much better place. For the first time since my illness began, I had to really put myself and my needs aside and focus on someone else. Sure, I had done just that (with my mom) before but never to the extent I've had to this weekend.

Before my friend came, I had been taking care of my mom. Though I felt faint at time, I still fought through it and cooked for us. Anything that she couldn't do, I did. Though I was weak and achy, I had to prepare for my friend's arrival. Though I was super anxious, I ran errands and drove mom to and from work. (side note: if you're very anxious, I don't recommend you actually drive; don't try this at home.) When my friend arrived, I was still very anxious yet I still suppressed it as much as I could and made sure she had the best time she could while visiting. Why? Because I didn't matter.

I'm not saying that I don't think I matter as a human being. It was just that my wants didn't matter. I hope it doesn't make me sound egotistical, but I think I bring something unique to this world. God's given me gifts (which I am still trying to figure out how to use) and one of them seems to be the ability to push aside whatever I am going through and focus on someone else who needs care and/or attention for whatever reasons. While, sure, being anxious, lightheaded and I was feeling like my stomach was going to send me to the ER, I knew that I was going to be fine. I've learned to distinguish when I should be really worried and when I just have to sit and relax (and do whatever is necessary) while whatever I'm feeling passes. Having my friend over was the first real big test and I'm happy to say that I think I did well.

I feel like God is preparing me for whatever the next step in my life is; whether it be career related or something else like maybe a wife and mother. Actually, the thoughts "okay, if I can do this (which is just a fraction of what moms can do -- they're superwomen), then my being able to do this is helping me realize that I can be a mama someday." That's right, I don't matter... and that's okay. It was a pretty fantastic feeling despite everything else that I was feeling.

So that's my whole thing. It was a little longer than I anticipated but I just really wanted to get it all out. And I'm sure that having The Avengers playing in the background gave me the extra push. ;)

Anyway, it's my day off so I'm going to try to enjoy it and not let the angry people ruin it. :)

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

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Family Tree and Baptismal Anniversaries

While working on the family tree this past Sunday morning, I discovered to awesome things: my mother's and my baptismal anniversaries. Furthermore, I discovered them on my baptismal anniversary. :D

See, I've been working on my family tree for months. I like history so looking at one's own family tree has always fascinated me. I'm currently stuck in the early-mid 1800s as many records were burned during the Cristero war (the town where my paternal grandparents and family lived at the time saw a lot of action, apparently) but I hope to find something to get me unstuck. Also, I'm pretty sure I'll soon find something that confirms whether there's some Irish ancestry on my paternal grandmother's side of the family (as is believed). The Spanish line, I'm happy to report, runs deep. ;)

As for my mother's side of the family, it's a little harder to find. My mom was adopted when she was days old and her adoptive father (yes, she was raised by a sole parent) didn't get many things in the process. Mom's been on her own since she was young so we didn't know much about that side of the family. Thankfully, I was able to find church records from the town she was raised in and found something she hadn't known her entire life -- whether she was baptized as an infant or not.

I skimmed through all the records of the year she was born until I found her birth date. I stopped skimming and went through them slowly until I found her. Her name, the name of my maternal grandmother (who had a different surname than we thought), the name of her godparents, and the name of the priest who had baptized her. It turns out that she had been baptized at a day one, which she never knew. Mom was baptized, did her first communion, and was confirmed when I was 3 years old... but it sounds like it was a conditional baptism since they didn't know whether she had been baptized or not. Anyway, needless to say, mom was so excited that she hugged me and was on cloud nine the rest of the day.

I was curious to see my own baptismal records (which my mom happily produced) and saw that my own anniversary was this past Sunday. That's right, I celebrated 28 years (yes, I'm that old :-P) of being Catholic on September 1st. With my mom's birthday and baptismal day being this month as well, you can bet we've found new reasons to celebrate. ;)

Anyway, I thought this was neat so I wanted to share. Okay, I really wanted to write and couldn't come up with anything else so I chose this to write about lol. Never let it be said that I don't try. ;)

I will have something to write for tomorrow's What I Learned Wednesday post... and hope to have it published early enough.

Now to have a late lunch and try to stay cool despite a leaky A/C and heat in the triple digits.

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

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!