Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Year This Nerd Learned to Trust

Oh, 2016... what a roller coaster year it was. I had so many lows but the highs were what made this year and what I went through worthwhile. Who knew that the lessons I learned during Lent -- on controlling my temper, doing things in moderation, rearranging priorities, letting go of perfection, and, finally, on increasing my trust in God -- would help me grow throughout the year, in a big way. Everything from the mess our former building manager left to being completely aimless for a while only helped me grow closer to the Lord.

The reoccurring theme for me this year was learning to let go and trust God wholeheartedly, even when I couldn't see the end of the tunnel in certain situations. I had to face my fears and deal with doubts I was having regarding my vocations. It took a lot of patience and prayer to get through some of the most difficult times. Taking big decisions to prayer was what kept me sane this year.

I went through a long period of spiritual dryness which began during the summer and didn't end until about early October. In the middle of that dryness, I was able to forgive some of the worst offenses ever done to me. The low point was falling into depression in late summer when I was emotionally vulnerable after recognizing signs that I was in friendships (yes, plural) that were not good for me or for the other person involved. I almost shut down this blog when I was at the lowest point in my depression but I'm glad that I stuck it out and continued to write. I actually still dealt with letting go of friendships up until a couple of days ago. I'm happy to report that it ended well. I still pray for these people and I have absolutely no ill will towards them because of the good they brought into my life but God helped me see why it was better to go our separate ways.

During the first half of the year, I had to fall back to half-time in grad school before I had to leave it completely. I ended up returning to finish my second Bachelor's degree in a different field (speech pathology) and am now about halfway through the program. I absolutely loved my time in grad school because I immersed myself in Biblical Theology but God knows why I wasn't meant to finish the Master's degree in it. For a couple of weeks during the summer, I considered letting both paths go and return to my former life but I saw why it wouldn't have been a good idea. I'm happy with the path I'm on now and I can see why this is where God wants me to be.

As for the other vocation, I "dated" myself... meaning I got to know myself better. Accepting that I'm a highly sensitive person really helped me avoid stimulus that would've made my anxiety levels go through the roof and, I believe, helped me avoid panic attacks throughout the year... which came in handy when I began to become more social in the second of the year. Yes, my mother still brings up the fact that I'm still unmarried. I'm still keeping my ninja status in this area but I will say that I'm very happy about how the year is ending on this front and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings.

As for my health, I had a lot of ups and downs. This summer was especially hard. I had to deal with the return of anemia as well as a kidney infection and an eventual acute kidney injury. Palpitations and heart worries were something I dealt with for months during the second half of the year. At the beginning of the year, I felt like I was too busy for self-care but I ended up embracing it as the year ended. Unplugging and quieting the world during Lent was amazing but something I didn't do again during the year. Sure, I had moments in which I was able to remember why it's so important to step away from social media but I still didn't do it as much as I would've liked. A continued goal for 2017? I think so!

One of the biggest fears I worked through was offending people and pushing them away with my thoughts. I'd been accused of "too pious" in how I looked at things but I knew that I had to write what I felt and how I looked at things from a more "conservative" side. I started by telling y'all why I threw away my Meg Cabot books. At the end of the year, I was able to finally push those fears aside and allow myself to post what I wanted. Post about mental and emotional purity that a lot of people had a massive cow over, anyone? Yes, it took almost the entire year before I made the big change, but, hey, I was able to do it. We'll just have to see what I have the guts to write about next year. ;)

My biggest failure this year as, undoubtedly, how little I went to Mass. I stunk at going to Mass, especially with everything I had going on throughout the year. I actually teared up yesterday while praying the Rosary, because I still feel like a failure and a horrible Catholic for not going to Mass. Something always came up and then I second guessed whether I should've tried harder to get to Mass. Biggest goal in 2017? Get my tush to Mass! It was my main petition during the St. Andrew Christmas novena for a reason. Oh, if you're wondering... I was able to attend Mass twice during Advent. I didn't go to Mass last weekend for Christmas. The reasons for my poor attendance? I was sick and in pain... I couldn't breathe and felt too dizzy/lightheaded to drive (and no one else in this house drives)... I was having stomach problems... sometimes I even had random panic attacks. Yes, all legitimate but still, something I need to find a priest and talk to him about since I haven't had a spiritual director in over a year. Thankfully, I got to Mass a bit more often, a big reason for that was because of the encouragement I received from the young adult group I joined in October.

Looking back at everything, it seems like things came full circle in most areas of my life. I debated and rejected returning to the career path I had been on prior to my reversion. The summer began with a lot of trips to the hospital, just like the summer that I reverted, only this year they didn't go beyond the summer (follow-ups not included). I find it funny that this all happened because I celebrated a decade since my reversion to the faith this year. Bonus: I also returned to my alma mater to take my proctored exams. Who saw that coming? Not me!

God truly blessed me this year. He kept surprising me when I feared things wouldn't get better. After learning to let go of my need to control things and surrender my selfishness, things changed for me. My life changed. I was even called "bubbly" for the first time in over a decade... and it was a genuine and positive compliment. Resigning myself to do God's will, even when it's incredibly difficult and I'm petrified of not being strong enough to endure the trials, was the best decision I made this year. I'm sure a combination of what I learned during Lent in addition to the graces I received during the 54-day Rosary novena were what helped me mature and grow in my relationship with God. I hope to continue seeing its fruit into 2017 and beyond.

To those who've stuck with me all year and those who joined my journey during the year, I wanted to say "thank you." Your prayers, encouraging words, and challenges (done in a civil manner) have helped make me the person I am today. Who I was at the beginning of the year is someone I barely recognize... and I'm grateful for all the positive changes you've all helped me embrace. :) Here's to another year and (dare I dream?) better 2017! Verso l'alto! ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless you all in 2017! :D

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Patron Saints for 2017

As I wrote two weeks ago, for the first time since this blog's inception, you lovely readers won't be voting on this blog's patron saint for the upcoming year. Instead, I opted to make the Holy Family the permanent patron saints for the blog. It's something I thought about for a long time and it seemed like the right time to make this change.

St. Joseph (2016) was the last patron saint chosen by y'all. Others throughout the years have included: St. Dymphna (2007), St. Teresa of Avila (2007 and 2012), Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (2008 and 2009), St. Cecilia (2010), St. Therese of Lisieux (2011), St. Catherine of Siena (2012), Mary Undoer of Knots (2013), St. Raphael the Archangel (2014), and St. Brigid of Ireland (2015). That is a pretty awesome list and each patron saint really helped me out a lot each year that they were chosen; some in unexpected ways. Thank you all who voted for the saints over the years. :D

Just because I'm not asking y'all to help me to pick a patron saint doesn't mean I don't want one for 2017. This year I decided to use Jen Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator. I said a small prayer ("please, let me get a saint who will help me with whatever will be my biggest obstacle") before I clicked the button. I got...

The result made me laugh for three reasons. First, today I went to visit Dad's grave for the last time for this year... and his patron saint was St. Michael the Archangel. Second, this year I was able to identify that I need a lot of help with a couple of temptations (an example: the temptations to be lazy and procrastinate when I should be doing something important) that I need to work on in the upcoming year. Third, this year was the year that the devotion of praying the Chaplet of St. Michael finally stuck. I even asked Allison to custom-make a chaplet for me to use

But wait... I wanted one more patron saint for something else that's been on my heart lately: my vocation. I did the process again and got...

The archangel who told Mama Mary she was to be the mother of our Lord. He will be the patron of my vocation discernment. I think I'm in good hands. At this point I think I should just add St. Raphael the Archangel and adopt all three archangels as my patron saints for the upcoming year. lol. 

Are any of you choosing patrons for the upcoming year? If so, will you do a reader poll like I used to or will you be using the Saint's Name Generator as well? I would love to hear which you're doing and who you've gotten as your patron saint. :D

My molar (the one that needs a root canal... that I cannot currently afford and isn't covered by my dental insurance) is starting to hurt a little so I'm going to rest for a little while. St. Apollonia, please pray for me!

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Holy Innocents Question

I've been wanting to blog this question all day because it's a major pet peeve of mine but I haven't had the time until now. As y'all know, today (and it's still the 28th in L.A.) is the feast of the Holy Innocents. I don't know about other countries but I know in Mexico and other Hispanic countries, today is treated sort of like an April Fool's Day. People play pranks on others and then remark that they're "un pobre innocente" (poor innocent) if they fall for it. Considering what we commemorate today -- the massacre of poor innocent children -- it seems in poor taste to play pranks and then call people a "poor innocent."

My question for y'all is whether you feel the same way or if you don't think it's a big deal, I like April Fool's Day and a good prank now and then is fun and all... but it just feels and seems wrong to do it today of all days. If you're not of Hispanic origin and they have a similar tradition where your family/ancestors are from, I'd love to hear about it as well.

Anyway, this is a short blog post because I'm afraid I will keep ranting and I don't want to do that. lol.

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far!

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Amazing Rosary Novena Results

A couple of amazing things happened while I prayed the 54-day Rosary novena (from All Saints' Day through Christmas Eve).

- I was described as "bubbly" for the first time in a decade. This isn't new for me -- I've been called "bubbly" many times -- but it's something I haven't heard in so long because I fell into this spiral of self-consciousness right before I reverted to the Church when I was 21. That self-consciousness came across as shy, which I was as a result of it.

- I've apparently displayed a confidence that few people (at least those who haven't known me for over a decade) have seen and it's shocked them. I heard a few "who are you?!" comments a few weeks ago because I surprised people with how talkative I was during an outing with the young adult group I've become a part of. I've always been reserved and an introvert but I'm actually a somewhat of a social introvert. I like talking to people and socializing, but in small doses and in certain circumstances or else I get fatigued and, therefore, quiet. After socializing I need a good day or two to recover, too. Again, I was overcoming with self-consciousness which hindered the social side for a decade but I seem to have rediscovered it.

- I tanked the exams during the first half of the novena, the ones I studied the hardest for. When I stopped stressing over them, started taking better care of myself (by slowing down and resting more often), I actually did better on them. In fact, I did better on my final exams than I did on all the other exams... and most were comprehensive final exams.

- The people-pleaser side of me seemed to have finally gotten a clue and I've been thinking less about how people would react to my thoughts and words. That's not to say that I don't think about wording certain things more carefully so I don't offend or hurt other people, but I've certainly stopped caring about what they think about me personally. The (seemingly) controversial post on mental and emotional purity is an example of that.

- I had a number of things pop up (i.e. having to repeat a course due to a classmate's plagiarism - which affected my grade, having a temporary financial aid suspension, etc.) which would've normally sent me on an anxious doom spiral but which didn't affect me as much during the novena. I'm sure that it goes back to my resolve to trust God completely and let go of my stubbornness in favor of doing His will. Once I started doing these two things, my world completely changed for the better.

- The St. Andrew Christmas novena -- which began during the second half of the Rosary novena -- included the intention of detaching myself from everything that was harmful to my soul... which included a lot of things that I'm (still) very attached to and will take a lot of work to overcome. I knew what it meant giving up and yet I still prayed for it. I had no idea where the idea came from and was surprised when the words first came out of my mouth on the first day but it was something I continued to pray for from St. Andrew's feast day through Christmas Eve.

You want to know the best part of all of these things? None of them were intentions of the Rosary novena. I won't say what the intentions were (half of them weren't even intentions for me, personally) but they were not any of the things I described. Yet, they all make sense in one way or another. I feel like God prepared me for my specific intentions by allowing me to go through everything I went through during the novena. It's all helped me begin journeying down a road that will lead me closer to Him and doing His will, which is, ultimately, all I could ask for.

I don't know if or when my specific intentions will be answered -- especially the life-changing ones -- but I've already learned to be more proactive, more optimistic (I can hear some of you going "oh nooo... not more!" lol), and completely trust God. My outlook on life is different. I'm really excited about all the changes that came from the novena and I hope that they continue to produce more fruit as the time goes by. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this because I know some people are hesitant to start one. Yes, things that could go wrong went wrong. Yes, obstacles will come at you from different sides. Yes, you can have terrible "luck" but the outcomes far outweigh whatever crumbs come your way. :)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of books (some of which were Christmas gifts) to lose myself in while I still have the time to do so. ;)

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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, Everyone! Happy 9th Anniversary, Blog!

I just wanted to write a quick "Merry Christmas, everyone!" message to you lovely readers. I hope y'all have had a beautiful and blessed Christmas. I hope y'all had a chance to go to Mass, unlike me who woke up with my body aching and my mom at work. Of course, I then proceeded to feel better once the local day Masses were all finished. Sigh. Yes, it's an unfortunate no-Christmas Mass streak for me; I think I've been to Christmas Mass maybe once or twice in the past 10 years. I'm serious. Something always happens, almost without fail. Car issues, health issues...; you name it, it's probably happened. I gotta talk to a priest about that...

Today is also the 9th anniversary of this blog. Insert confetti, streamers, and noisemakers here. ;) 9 years ago, today, I bit the bullet and decided to start this blog. I actually spent a long time thinking about starting one but I didn't do it until right before Christmas Day ended in 2007. Wow, it'll be a decade next Christmas, God willing. Also, wow, I was 22 years-old when I started this blog. I was such a baby then. lol. I'm not perfect (at all; hashtag: understatement, lol) and I still have a lot to work on but having your lovely comments and support throughout the last 9 years has been amazing. A question for you long-time readers (5+ years; I know who some of you are): aren't you sick of my boring life yet? lol. ;)

Anyway, the apartment is freezing because we can't turn on the heater (side note: both Mom and I get headaches with heaters on) so I'm going to go walk around the living room for a little while to warm up. It's better than walking around, saying "¡tengo frío!" ("I'm cold!" in Spanish) every time I walk by my mom. Hooray for random dance party time. ;)

Thank you for continuing on this journey with me. ;)

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nice Try, Scrooge!

Apparently, Scrooge wanted to stress me out right before Christmas. Awesome! lol. So, what happened? Yesterday I received an email informing me that my financial aid had been suspended despite having a 3.03 GPA. I know two classes tanked my GPA but it was still well over the 2.0 GPA minimum requirement to continue receiving financial aid. I had called earlier in the semester -- as soon as I knew I had to retake a course -- and had been reassured that I would be okay. Immediately, I called my school's Financial Aid office and got to the bottom of things.

When I withdrew 2 years ago, I was taking 5 courses... and I ended up getting 5 W's because I withdrew a month away from finals. Anyone who has read the blog for a while knows how sick I got two years ago; I couldn't continue without harming my health further. To this day, 2+ years later, I'm still recovering from how sick I made myself during that time. They counted them as attempted courses and I had fallen under the 67% attempted courses/pass since I didn't pass one course this semester. I didn't fail it but it was still one I have to retake next semester and thus it's down at 65% for the requirement. I told the person I spoke to about my situation -- about withdrawing two years ago due to health issues and how I began this semester in and out of the hospital due to an acute kidney injury and how I had 3 heart holsters fitted throughout the semester. She told me to get online and fill out the suspension appeal application and state so.

For the next hour or so, Mom and I turned our apartment upside trying to find hospital paperwork from Fall 2014. We couldn't find anything so I submitted what I had from the past semester; all the paperwork with my bloodwork results, the discharge papers stating I had an acute kidney injury during the first 3 weeks of the semester, and the current medical issues they have on file for me. I'm still recovering but I've been doing better in recent weeks. (Side note: my doctors are completely stumped as to what is causing the pancytopenia and other mineral/vitamin deficiencies. They are ordering another Celiac blood test for February since I had intense mental fog up until I cut wheat and other gluten foods completely out of my diet). I had done well at the end of the semester with my exams so it wasn't like I was just goofing off. For a brief moment, I worried and stressed whether it would be enough. Then I was reminded that if it was God's will, it would work out and I would continue. If not, I had other options to either continue down this SLP path or do something completely different. Either way, this would only be a small obstacle that wouldn't hold me back from moving forward.

I honestly didn't think about or stress over it. I checked my email when I woke up this morning but then promptly forgot about it. I had (and have) other things to do between now and Christmas and then between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve occupying my mind. I had put it in God's hands and had done everything I could do on my end. Almost 24 hours after the email, I received a new email from them. Since I had submitted the appeal application before their work day was over (and they make these decisions on Thursdays) yesterday, I received their decision today. My appeal had been approved with a ton of strings attached; all strings that (God willing) won't be an issue for me next semester. I wasn't expecting an answer until next week, to be honest. Still, I did a happy dance in the car (I was waiting for Mom to come back to the car from a store) and I'm sure I looked silly to those who walked by but I didn't care. Huge sigh of relief.

Ever since I started the 54-day Rosary novena on All Saints' Day, I've noticed a huge change in me (as have other people). I won't write out my reflections on it until (hopefully) tomorrow because tomorrow is the last day and who knows what may pop up in my mind before I officially finish day 54's prayers/Rosary. Let's just say that resigning myself to God's will, as well as accepting that it's okay to slow down and take care of myself, has been doing me a lot of good. Nice try, Scrooge, but God has other plans for me. ;)

Anyway, just wanted to write about this to get it off my mind for good. Writing is completely therapeutic for me which is why I write. :)

I have a lot of things to do (that I really don't want to do; ugh, pre-Christmas laziness...) so I should attempt to not be a lazy bum and get some things started so I can finish them by New Year's Eve. Yes, that means I'm starting my annual clean-a-thon a week beforehand so I don't feel rushed in the last days of the year. ;)

I hope y'all have a lovely weekend and a wonderful Christmas (for those who are taking a social media/internet break from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day).

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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When People React Strongly to Your Blog Posts

Okay, wow... I did not expect the response I got from the blog post on Mental and Emotional Purity. Some of the comments were positive and I found out there were more like-minded people. Others were... not in agreement and made it known. I act felt attacked by a couple of comments but I tried to let it roll off of me because I knew what I had posted. I knew people were going to feel strongly about it but I also knew that I wanted to share my own thoughts. Still, I wasn't anticipating how much was misinterpreted.

I thought I'd made my thoughts clear in the post that those were my own thoughts and feelings on the subject. I thought I'd made it clear that I didn't have an issue with sex; I just don't want to hear about other people's experiences, especially when it gets graphic. I wasn't expecting for people to make me feel like there was something wrong with me for choosing to not want to hear or think about these things. I wasn't expecting people to throw (and I'm paraphrasing) "well, if you have an issue with chastity..." comments in my face. I wasn't expecting to feel as terrible as I did. But I did... and I had to remind myself that those were just other people's opinions and that I'm fine with my own thoughts because it's what I feel is right for me.

Funnily enough, no one talked about the issue of being careful with things like Hallmark movies or chick lit books. No, everyone focused on the part in which I mentioned sex. Go back and see for yourself... I talked more about the emotional part. No one touched that. It was interesting.

I've been reading Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri and a lot of what I was trying to say in the blog post was written perfectly in the book. I haven't read anything on Theology of the Body and I'm still learning about human sexuality from a Catholic perspective -- I've only gotten an "education" on human sexuality from liberal professors at secular colleges -- but it all pretty much aligns with what my thoughts and feelings about it. (side note: If you haven't read the book, or Pope St. John Paul II's Love and Responsibility, I highly recommend both.)

I don't regret what I wrote because I wanted to be honest with my thoughts and feelings on the subject. It was also a wonderful conversational starter with some people who disagreed but wanted to talk more about where I was coming from. People who bothered to talk to me about what I had written -- to make sure they understood where I was coming from -- ended up knowing that I meant no harm in what I had written. Those who made their comments (some very harshly) and didn't bother to continue dialogue after speaking their mind and reading my responses, I'm not angry with y'all. I'm sad we couldn't talk about it in a civil way but it's okay.

I'm going to continue writing about my thoughts. I did warn everyone that this was going to happen. I'm going to lose readers like I lost Twitter followers a couple of days ago. That's fine. As I said a couple of days ago, I'm going through a lot of changes (including some big life changes) so I'm going to be writing about how I'm changing, which includes changes to my thoughts on certain topics. This isn't a challenge or me flipping the bird to anyone; I simply want to stay authentic.

Anyway, I wanted to clear the air for those who were/are still unhappy with what I wrote. Again, it wasn't a judgment about anyone (I made sure I included that disclaimer in the blog post; you can go back and read it for yourselves if you don't believe me); I was simply talking about why I've chosen to avoid speaking, seeing, or hearing about sex. That's it. I won't be expanding further on it because I feel like I'm talking about it enough. I may revisit the topic of human sexuality in the future (though not anytime soon; I have other things I wish to write about) and I hope that those who stick around to share my journey with me will remember that what I write about is about what affects me personally, no one else.

Since there is a break from the rain (we've had rain in L.A. over the past 24 hours or so), I'm going to go make a quick grocery run since the rain is supposed to come back -- and it's supposed to be heavier -- later today through tomorrow. Need to stock up on basics, especially since we're now a few days away from Christmas. Time has flown by this year. :)

I hope y'all are doing well. :D

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Will and Lina Novels on Sale; Proceeds Being Donated

Copyright: Danica Clark Photography

Just a quick post to let y'all (not on social media) know that the Will and Lina novels are either already on sale (When Two Worlds Collide) and will be going on sale tomorrow (London Calling). I do this for the publication anniversary for both novels. London Calling will be celebrating 2 years of publication on Thursday. As per every May and December, I will be donating the proceeds. I had it in my heart to donate the royalties from this sale to the Monks of Norcia and their earthquake relief fund. Only the Kindle versions of the novels will be going on sale for 99 cents each but I will also donate anything earned from the paperback version (not on sale) as well. The sales go for a week each; Amazon has a "countdown deal" on the novel's individual pages so you know how much longer the sale will be going on for.

Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide (1st novel)
- Kindle:
- Paperback:

Will and Lina: London Calling (2nd novel; on sale tomorrow morning)
- Kindle:
- Paperback:

I do have news about a future novel that I hope to share before the week is over. It's not part of the Will and Lina series but I do love the direction it's going in... and I love that the idea came to me while I was praying the Rosary novena a couple of weeks ago. ;)

Alright, that's it for now. I'm trying to finish Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II's Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri. I'm hooked but haven't found the time to read it in large chunks of time so... gotta make that time. ;)

I hope everyone is having a lovely start of the week. :D

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mental and Emotional Purity

Many people (who have excellent taste in films and shows) have been raving about The Crown on Netflix so, naturally, I wanted to watch it. I have Netflix for a couple more days (I got it for a month) and have been attempting to add it to my queue but it never showed up. I wondered why I kept adding it without success. I thought it was a glitch on Netflix's end until I tried to watch it on my laptop as opposed to my TV (which is hooked to Roku and allows me to watch Netflix, Feeln, EWTN, etc). So, what was the reason? The Crown is rated TV-MA. TV-MA and rated R films are purposely blocked because I simply do not feel comfortable watching sex scenes and nakedness. A couple people on my Twitter feed said "oh, it's just the actor's naked backside for a scene or two" like it wasn't a big deal. I'm sure it isn't to them but it is to me.

I've already written about how I'm proud to be a "prude" (5 years ago) and even expanded on why I choose to forgo watching films, t.v. shows, and reading books that have sex scenes in a post earlier this year. For the tl;dr crowd: I have an active and vivid imagination that does not to have those images replaying in my mind, which I'll later have to go to confession for. I'm also terribly uncomfortable with it. Yes, sex is a beautiful and natural part of married life but I'm not comfortable with those images, either visually or mentally. Even though they are characters and actors paid to do their jobs, it feels like an invasion of privacy on an intimate moment meant for two people. I've gotten comments about how "ridiculous" I am for "being this way" but I don't care. If I'm not comfortable with something, I'm going to avoid it. I know myself better than anyone else does and I know where my weaknesses are. There's a reason why I threw away my Meg Cabot books earlier this year and why I'm going to end this year with another music purge like I did 3 years ago.

Let's go beyond sex scenes. We women tend to be emotional creatures by nature. Hallmark movies and chick lit give us unrealistic expectations about love and romance. They make us feel all warm and fuzzy. When you're a single woman, it's so easy to fall into the temptation to think "wow, I wish I could have that..." Yes, I can now watch Hallmark movies and not think that life is going to be like that because, well, it's not. It's easier now but, oh, it wasn't always easy for me to separate between the two.

If you can watch these things and are not as sensitive to them as I am, power to you. I'm not here to shame anyone who can watch or read these things and not have them affect them. I, unfortunately, cannot claim the same so I do what I have to do to keep some mental and emotional purity. I know, I know. Some of you have an issue with the phrase "emotional purity" but I'm going to use it for one good reason: I struggled with it earlier this year.

During the summer, when I had an anemic spiritual life, there was a young man who (still is) lovely but was all wrong for me for several reasons. (side note: I should also remind everyone that I was emotionally fragile during this time so it wasn't the ideal time for this to happen though, looking back at it, I'm glad it did.) I was on an emotional high for quite some time, which hasn't been normal for me as an adult but it's something I was not unfamiliar with as a teenager while away from the Church. I felt things a lot more intensely then (think Marianne Dashwood as opposed to the Elinor Dashwood my friends are more use to these days) than I do now because I've learned to practice a lot of self-control and I've learned to not get carried away with my feelings or my imagination. I momentarily forgot that for a couple of weeks and it was unhealthy for me. I actually felt like a teenager and not the 31-year-old young woman that I am. All those ideas I got from books I read and movies I watched years ago came flooding back into my mind. "Wouldn't it be lovely if this happened...?" "Wouldn't it be romantic if...?" Does anyone see where I'm going with this and why I chose, years ago, to avoid things that could later be brought up in my mind when I'm having a moment of weakness? No, my thoughts didn't necessarily go there but they could've easily gone there if I hadn't exercised some degree of control (the little that I had at the time) over my imagination.

Yes, it's really dumb and I'm not proud of it but the evil one knows where my weaknesses lie. My emotions and my heart (hopeless romantic, party of one) are two of my biggest downfalls when I let my guard down. This young man, as lovely as he is, was a massive temptation to my emotional health. What I felt for him was so strong (or so it seemed; emotions can trip you up) that my imagination went into overdrive with romantic ideals. It's an INFP downfall; we're too idealistic and too prone to live in a fantasy world if we're not careful... and I wasn't for a while. Everything I worked hard to control over the years flew out the window. It didn't last too long, thank goodness.

I confided in those I feel closest to and I'm sure their prayers were what helped me get out of this ridiculous state of mind. I made the decision to nip it in the bud, as hard as it was. It took a couple of weeks but I was able to get out of that state of mind and back to normal. This happened months ago (during the summer) but I struggled with these thoughts again late last month through earlier this month when they resurfaced during the 54-day Rosary Novena I'm doing. However, this time I understood that it was because of the nature of one of my intentions for the novena so it was easier (time-wise) to overcome it.

So, you see, this is why I continue to be cautious and keep myself from watching things that can end up kicking my tush in the future. Yes, I'm uncomfortable watching sex scenes and naked people because it's how I was raised but I also know that it can be a weakness for me. I have a feeling there are more people like me out there but who are embarrassed to admit this (which was not easy for me to do). It is what it is. Know yourselves. Keep in mind your strengths and weaknesses. Don't ever be too comfortable with your own perceived power/abilities because temptation can be a lot stronger than you think. Evil doesn't take a day off. It will catch you off-guard. Prayer, remembering that you need God during these moments of weakness, and lots of moral support from people you trust are key during these times.

Alright, I think that's enough gut spillage for now. I'm going to go hide or something. lol. ;)

I hope y'all had a lovely work week and that you have a lovely weekend! :D

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Blog Changes

When I first started this blog, on Christmas Day 2007, I had no idea that I would continue to be blogging nearly a decade later. I started to write because (at the time) there were no Catholic blogs talking about the faith with issues such as anxiety, illness, and other topics that people seemed to not be comfortable talking about. I wanted to give a voice to those who were too afraid to talk about dealing with these issues on a personal level. A lot of my earliest readers found me by searching for "Catholicism and anxiety." Fast forward 9 years later, bloggers are more open than I am about their lives. Sure, I still share a lot (or it seems like I do ;D) but I'm not one of the only bloggers who are open about their daily struggles and how our faith is affected or enriched by them.

I've been thinking about it for a long time now and I've decided to open up on different topics that I normally shied away from... and be a little more open and honest in general. That's not to say I haven't been honest in my blog posts -- I have -- but I've also edited myself a lot out of fear of judgment or offending people. I've slowly been doing this in recent months (I'm sure some of you have noticed) but it's going to be a little more obvious in coming posts/weeks. I'm starting a new chapter in my life and I want to be able to talk about it without fear. If you don't end up liking the new direction, that's okay. I know I'm not a $100 bill; not everyone is going to like me or what I have to offer. :)

One of the big changes that I'm also making is that I'm no longer doing the annual "help me choose the patron saint for this blog" poll. After 8 years of doing this, I thought it was time for this change. This year, St. Joseph was the reader-chosen patron saint and it feels right that he be the last one chosen by a poll. After thinking about it for a while, I've chosen the Holy Family to be the permanent patron saints for this blog. I've developed wonderful devotions to the individual members of the Holy Family (as the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Joseph) during this year so it seems fitting that they, as the Holy Family, continue to intercede for me so that I may write what might help others who stumble across this blog.

I'll be re-introducing novena posts (having daily novena prayers posted) throughout the year. I'm not sure which novenas I'll post/schedule during the year (starting next year) but I'll try to change them so that there's variety from year-to-year. I cleaned up the blog and website links and will be adding to them as I find the time. I think that's it... for now. Just a couple of layout and content changes. As I said, a new chapter in my life is beginning and I need to grow up and change with it. :)

Anyway, that's it for now. I really want to clean the apartment since it's been neglected while I studied for and took finals. Oops. I also have a lot of books to get through in less than a week that I borrowed from the library. A break from the online world for a couple of hours will do me good, especially considering I still have emails and other things to catch up on from the past couple of weeks. Those can wait a little longer. ;)

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Resignation to God's Will and Survival

Wow. It's been two weeks since the last blog post. I don't think I've gone so long without writing a blog post since my father's death in 2009. If you're not following me on Twitter or any other social media platform than you might've not known that I was in extreme, crazy study mode for the past two weeks. I had three final exams over 4 days, the last two of which I did this morning. I'm behind on sending a friend Advent meditations (oops!). I have a lot of email content to get through from the past couple of days. I've been posting novena reminders later than I would've liked. I've just been really busy with studying for exams and the last couple of assignments to finish. However, I'm done... and I'm back!

I have my final grades already. I didn't fail single class though I will have to repeat two because of a B- or better policy that my school's program has. Yes, even though I was about 3% away from that B- (in the class in which a classmate plagiarized her part of the group research paper and sunk all the group members' grades), I still have to repeat it. It's okay. I'm at peace about the whole thing which, I believe, is a continuation of possibly having (finally!) learned to have complete trust and total surrender to God's will. I didn't get to study as much as I would've liked because I was constantly reminded that I needed to slow down and take care of myself in the days leading up to the finals. I slept 10 hours yesterday and had a bunch of stuff to do so I had little study time and I still managed an 81% of today's exam. Basically, I did what I could, I stopped relying solely on what I could do, and I trusted that I would pass the exams if it was God's will for me to continue down this path. I have to say, the results were pretty awesome. 

I could've gotten better grades and passed the two classes I have to retake but I've resigned myself to the idea that I did the best that I could under the circumstance and for that I'm glad. I didn't ask to have an acute kidney injury nor to have 3 heart holsters fitted during the semester. I didn't ask to have all the medical issues I had for the first couple of weeks of the semester, which manifested in the horrid symptom of intense fog, making it impossible to memorize the terms for and concentrate on the first couple of exams. I could be angry about what happened with the plagiarism and blame the classmate but I've chosen not to. Yes, it's completely unfair to be penalized for something I didn't do. Yes, it's going to push back my graduation date for another 6 to 12 months longer than anticipated. Yes, I'm going to have to chance my plans. However, I firmly believe that everything happened for a reason and therefore I'm just going to go with the flow. Things will work out for the best in God's time; I've done all I could do on my end. Next semester I'm doing 2 courses (and will continue the 2-course per semester pattern through graduation) I have to retake and just focus on those because of the amount of memorization it requires. 

The old me would've been stressed out because I have to repeat two courses... which means more student loans... which means it'll take longer for me to begin working. The current me is saying "thank goodness I'm going to have two courses I'm already familiar with and I'm glad the professor for one course will let me submit all the work I did this semester for next semester." The current me is more excited about the fact that I can enjoy the rest of Advent with a mental peace I've been aching for since the semester began. I'm not thinking about long term goals. I'm no longer feeling a little ashamed and pathetic for not finishing school when I wanted. I no longer feel like I have to prove myself and what I'm capable of doing (mentally). I'm not comparing myself to others. I'm letting my natural optimistic side take over. Optimism and resignation to God's will is a great combo for me. :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this little (ha!) update since I had the time to blog. I only slept 4 hours last night so I think I should go take a nap before it gets later and the nap then interrupts my sleeping schedule, which is already of whack.  If there are terrible typos or missing words... I have the lack of sleep as my excuse. ;) I hope to blog more often now that I have an entire month free before the Spring semester begins. Yay! Oh, I'll be writing about my plans soon. ;)

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! :D

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