Thursday, January 30, 2020

The End of My Digital Detox: The Dread and Humility

Three days.

I'm three days away from the end of my self-imposed digital detox month and I'm utterly dreading it. I mean, technically, I can stay off social media indefinitely but I really can't due to work. I've already had work-related issues due to my inability to be active on social media. I promised one of my editors that I would return to social media after this weekend because of that problem. Insert sigh here.

Note to self: if God ever wants me to take up a different career path, ask that it's one where I don't need to use social media for said job. Yes, His will be done, not mine, but it can't hurt to ask nonetheless. More on this in a bit.

I'm not dreading returning to social media because of the content but because of two big reasons:

1) I know I'm still having trouble exercising moderation...


2) I need the disconnect for the sake of my humility.

The first is a fear of returning and not having the willpower to not get sucked into it again. Moderation is the next thing I'm tackling in my quest to become a better version of myself and my return to social media is going to seriously test that. I have been having issues moderating a lot of things in my life, including the good things. In a nutshell, I get so laser-focused on and into something that I have problems stopping to do something else. It can be reading a good book, listening to a podcast or audiobook, writing, etc. I never noticed what a big problem it was until I was forced to really look at myself and see where my weaknesses are.

Actually, no. I take that back. I noticed it just once before: when I get "in the zone" when working on my latest novel and I forget to eat or drink because I'm so focused on getting everything down before I forget the idea that's in my head. However, I thought it was just an issue when I worked on novels. It took this detox to see that, nope, it's something that is a reoccurring issue and one I need to address.

As a Benedictine Oblate novice, I know I need to work on moderation because that's what St. Benedict prescribes in the Holy Rule. That's why our motto is Ora et labora -- prayer and work. We can't just focus on a single thing. We need that balance. And one of the biggest things I need to work on is not to do too much. Even doing too much is frowned upon. I think most (non-religious) people today would think that St. Benedict's Rule is too soft or useless because he actually advises against the workaholic and busyness tendencies that are so prevalent in our society. If you're not constantly doing something, that judgment (whether real or imagine) is there. Instead, moderation is advised. Work, prayer, leisure, food, etc. should be done in moderation. It's wonderful advice and I highly recommend reading the Rule even if you're not attracted to the Benedictine spirituality.

So, yes, I'm dreading it because I know I'm still a weakling when it comes to moderation but there is an even greater dread: the lack of humility that may come with it.

See, being on social media contributes to one's egoism... or, at least, it does to me. Yes, words of affirmation is my second love language (after quality time) but sometimes the compliments are a little too, well, ego-inflating. To be completely honest, sometimes the compliments go to my head even when I don't want them to. I recognize that God has given me a gift for words but having too many compliments isn't healthy for me. That's why I think I've loved being away from social media. Nothing seeing how many "likes" a tweet or shared link gets -- and not knowing who has liked it or who hasn't bothered -- is amazingly freeing.

Furthermore, not being so hyper-connected helped me see just how few friends I actually have. There were probably only half a dozen people with whom I had regular contact with over this break. People who I thought would stay in touch -- people whose contact information I asked for and who I gave my information to -- have been absent these last 29 days. Do you know how humbling it is to realize how many people don't actually care about what's going on with you? It's fantastic! Yes, I truly mean that.

It's done me a world of good to see how completely and utterly unimportant I am. For all I know, only I will ever read this blog post... and that's okay. In fact, that takes a lot of pressure off of me because I don't feel like people expect me to write or be something that I'm not. It's also made me realize that what I truly want is to live my life in the way that I believe God wants for me and to not care about what others think.

As I've already mentioned in Ch-ch-changes: Reflections and Changes Following My Digital Detox Month, I'm changing the way I use social media for my own good. There are three big changes I'm implementing:

1. I will check social media only once a day, twice a week. I'm serious. I'll check in on Sundays and on Thursdays... and only for a total half hour each time. Trust me, I've come to see just how little I actually need social media. I'll most likely check at the end of the day, too.

2. I will only post as necessary; as I have been doing during the digital detox. Not only will I be cognizant of how often I post...

3. I'm also going to be more careful about what I communicate. Silence and only speaking when necessary are instructed in the Rule. As I had mentioned in the Ch-ch-changes post, my beloved Monks of Norcia have adopted this practice. I've seen the fruits of it, not just with the monks but also with the graces that have flowed out to us Oblates (and Oblate novices) as a result. I told y'all they were the perfect fit (read: spiritual community) for me.

I want to remind myself how little and unimportant I am to everyone else. I know that God loves and cares about me -- that I'm not unimportant to Him -- but that's not egotistic. His love isn't just for me. He doesn't love me more than anyone else. He loves everyone; desires the salvation of the souls of all humanity, even those who reject Him. Thinking about things this way is humbling, in a good way. I understand why so many young men and women enter monasteries and convents (or become hermits) where they desire to be forgotten by the world. To only think about serving others and doing your duties for God and out of the love you have for Him is the only way to live if you ask me. Alas, I'm sadly not called to religious life but, hey, consecrated virginity is still a possibility. Marriage and motherhood would also allow me to do this but I've honestly begun hoping that I'm called to consecrated virginity.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned something about a possible career change. Lately, I've been wondering if God is perhaps calling me to do something other than writing while still using the gift of words He gave me. There is one career that would allow me to do this; one which would allow me to help others in a way I can't with writing. No one but the people with whom I would directly work with would know about this, too. It would be a big change -- and I would need to get myself into more student-loan debt to achieve it -- so I'm going to spend a lot of time in prayer before I make a decision. It's not going to be a decision I make anytime soon. I want to give myself time to spend many Holy Hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament to pray about it and talk to God about it.

Yes, I would still write, even if it's just my blog, novels, and the odd article here and there. I don't think I could ever stop writing; it's in my very nature to always write, even if no one reads it. (side note: I love getting physical notebooks for a reason). The more I fall in love with Christ and the bigger the desire to die to myself, to serve others, and to be thoughts insignificant by the world, the more this route makes sense. But, as always, we'll see if it's God's will for me. Perhaps He wants me to keep writing or do something else. This is why I need the time to think and pray.

Anyway, just some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my mind. There is another post I'm really excited to post but I'm saving that for St. Agatha's feast day. You (if anyone else reads it, that is) will see why I waited until her feast day to share it.

That's it for now. I hope y'all have had a good week thus far. :D

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

It's official... I'm in love!

It's official... I'm in love! No, this is no clickbait title. I truly am in love.

I'm in "thinking only about them and not about myself" love.

I'm in "I would sacrifice my creature comforts; sacrifice that which gives me little moments of joy and pleasure for them" love.

I'm in "I finally understand what it means to truly be in love" love.

What brought this realization? Ven. Fulton Sheen's Three to Get Married.

I've been trying to finish this book for months now. Sadly, I'm still nowhere near done because I underline and leave a lot of comments in the margin. A lot -- it's that good! I often pause and think about what I've read and how it pertains to me before continuing. It's actually become part of my Lectio Divina routine since it is considered spiritual reading.

But, even before it became part of my (now) daily reading requirement, it was a source of a lot of food for thought. Even before I realized that I might've been called to something other than marriage and family (at least, in the traditional sense), it had begun changing my mindset on what love truly was and what it meant to me. To this day, the deeper I go into it, the more things make sense to me -- and the more I realize how truly in love I am!

After discussing wedding plans and what my future life with a certain someone would look like (when I was discerning marriage with said person), I decided to dust off the book and read it. It had been sitting on my bookshelf for years, gathering dust since I was determined not to get ahead of myself. No, I wanted to read it until I had begun discerning marriage with someone. I kept telling myself that I had no use for it "right now" because I had been single for so long. Now I regret not having read it sooner.

Yesterday, it got me to reflect on my past "loves" -- the (very, very few) young men I thought I had been in love with at some point in my life. Upon further reflection, I came to realize that I had been misusing the word for most of those crushes and/or relationships. It wasn't the kind of love God had intended. It was what Pope St. John Paul II would call utilitarian love; a love in which I thought about how it could be useful to me and what it could do for me. I know that sounds horrible but that's what my immature mind and heart craved for a long time in my teens into the early part of my reversion. There was a selfish component in which my feelings were at the forefront; where I only wanted what I wanted and, sure, I thought about them, too, but I was more focused on myself.

I wish I could say that I grew out of it but I would be lying if I didn't admit that it had crept up again in recent experiences. I thought about how the other person made me happy. Sure, I wanted what was best for them, too, but I would still think about myself and avoiding getting hurt in any way. I thought about how dependent I had become on them for my happiness and security. I had begun overlooking things that didn't sit well with me; things I knew, deep down, I should've spoken up against more often and without fear. Not fear of God but fear of how they would react and how much it would hurt me. Are we seeing the selfish pattern?

I had let the euphoric highs dictate things for far too long. They should've been -- and were when I didn't ignore them -- the first red flags that things weren't right but I was so caught up in my emotions. That's not to say I didn't have my lows. I did. When I came crashing down to earth, I hit hard and I ended up hating myself for it. Yes, hating myself. The passions were strong in me. But then another high would come and it would undo my resolution to not let myself be caught up in those feelings. It wasn't until Our Lady stepped in and interceded that I knew things couldn't continue. That's when I began on the path I'm currently on.

After all those reflections, I came to the conclusion that I've been in love -- in the true sense of the word as I'm coming to understand it -- only once in my life. I will say that I am so grateful that I can claim that the only person I've ever truly loved (in a romantic sense) is someone whom I still admire and respect.

"So," you may be wondering, "are you saying that you're still in love with said person? Is this your big, romantic gesture towards them?"

No. Although I'm truly grateful for having had that experience, there is no future -- at least, not in the romantic sense, for him and I. He is someone I still care deeply for but I've realized that I'm in love with Someone Else. In a surprising (or unsurprising, perhaps) plot twist, I actually came to realize how truly in love I am with Christ! Insert your own surprising level here. Go ahead, I'll wait for whatever reaction you're having to pass. lol.

The more I think about love and the more I think about the possibility of beginning my official discernment to consecrated virginity, the more it makes sense to me. There was always something lacking in my past relationships and crushes. Even with the only man I had ever felt true love for, I couldn't picture a future with him. There was a reason for it, which now makes me laugh in hindsight. He taught me about what it was to love unselfishly and what it meant to will the good of the other but I could never picture myself married to him for a reason I now understand. With the rest, perhaps I could've seen a future with them but I can now see why things didn't work out; why things worked out as they have. God has opened my eyes to see where there would've been major problems. I can see where we would've been unhappy and where the love would've continued down a utilitarian route. Perhaps not just (or at all) on my side but I could see where there would've been a breakdown in loving the other person as God intended. I didn't want to be used nor did I want to use the other person so I'm grateful for everything that has happened to date. I now fully understand why things never truly felt right to me in any of those relationships.

So, yes, I have come to realize that I have fallen in love with Christ. When I think about the ultimate and greatest act of love mankind has ever known -- His crucifixion and death for the salvation of all of humanity -- the more I understand what love and the more I want to imitate that love. And by that, I mean that I want to fully die to myself and serve others. I want to let go of my selfishness and be more charitable. In a nutshell, I want to become even more Benedictine  -- to humble myself so that others always come before me; to serve; to become as little and unimportant as possible. Okay, so that last part is also partly St. Therese-inspired.

Just as Christ loved His Church, I want to do what I can for her. As fragile and feeble as I am, I can still offer up my ailments and moments of distress for the clergy and the good of the Church. I want to give as much of myself as I can. I want to give the rest of my life for His greater glory in whichever way I can. The beautiful part is that I know I can do -- and have begun doing -- this as a Benedictine Oblate. As a novice, I've already seen how my life has changed for the better; how my heart is opening to the plea of others in a way I haven't seen in many years. I had unintentionally hardened my heart in recent years. Now, it's all begun to revert to how things were prior to this hardening. All credit goes to my being an Oblate novice. Just the thought of making my Final Act of Oblation fills me with tears of joy and happiness.

Furthermore, I can also do this as a consecrated virgin. If it's God's will -- and my Oblate master, spiritual director, and Archbishop Gomez agree -- I will begin my official discernment soon. I'm still waiting to hear from my Oblate master; to make sure a discernment won't interfere with my novitiate as I know we cannot make certain vows as Oblates. I also have my next spiritual direction meeting coming up. To say I'm excited to see what God has in store for me is an understatement.

If for whatever reason God doesn't will for me to become a consecrated virgin, I will accept it. If He wants me to stay single but simply make private vows, I will do it. If He is just preparing my heart for a man with whom I can live out this love for Christ, I also accept it. I meant it when I said I wanted nothing more than to do His will for my life.

The only thing I'm certain of -- the only thing that brings me simultaneous joy and peace -- is that I am called to become a Benedictine Oblate. And, as an Oblate, I am called to love and serve God and others with the gifts He has given me.

So, that's where I am. This was no clickbait title. I am in love and a deep love at that. My heart overflows with it, especially now that it's becoming softer. Just when I thought it wasn't possible for me to love God any more, my heart grows and expands, surprising (yet not) me in the process.

Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to explore this love for God and discern my vocation in the process. I continue to pray for you all as well. :)

As always, thank you for reading and God bless!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Ch-ch-changes: Reflections and Changes Following My Digital Detox Month

Yes, I know -- I still have a week to go before my digital detox month is up and I can return to social media. However, next week is looking like it's going to be a busy one so I decided to post this a week early since I don't think anything will change in the week that's left.

In a nutshell, this week has been one long reflection on my use of social media as well as the fate of this blog. No, I am not closing down this blog. I may one day, but I don't foresee it happening, despite the lack of readership since blogs are no longer "in." But it, along with my use of social media, will be seeing a big change overall. The reason for it? It goes back to my relationship with God and my life as a Benedictine Oblate novice.

Long story short, though I have not been able to get away from screens as much I would've liked (articles need to be written, prayer requests need to be sent, and urgent calls need to be made), I have found a good balance that will work best for me. That was the whole point of this digital detox month and one of the intentions in my novena to the Holy Family at the start of the year. I wanted to learn how to best utilize the internet for good, not just mindless entertainment or a way to waste time. In these last 3+ weeks since I began my digital detox, I've been able to do just that and, in a surprising twist, the events of Tuesday and the subsequent blog post were the turning point for me.

I won't reiterate what happened on Tuesday but I had a feeling it was a teaching moment for me. I wrote as much at the end of the post. What I noticed in the following days was that I ended up feeling, well, uncomfortable about what I wrote. It's all true; I despise lying. But I felt like it was time for me to rethink what I share after feeling like I shouldn't have shared as much as I did on the post. Yes, my health issues are a big part of my journey (they often shape the trajectory of my decisions and actions), but I made the decision to no longer share details or much on that front in general.

I'm going to go the "ninja" route I take for my personal life and not post about them unless it's a major breakthrough or component to my spiritual journey. I once shared so much because I would often get messages from people thanking me for being so open about the struggles. They wrote that it helped them feel like they weren't alone in their own health struggles. But, I no longer feel like I need to do that. In fact, it doesn't feel right.

Instead, I feel like God wants me to focus on the "right, good, and true" that I experience in my life as a Catholic young woman who discerning the vocation of consecrated virginity and on the brink of making her Final Act of Oblation as a Benedictine Oblate. So, that's what I'm going to do. Basically, I'm going to focus on writing about my spiritual journey. It echoes the decision I made when I opened my public Instagram account where I share faith-based pictures and reflections. Trust me, there is a lot that I can write about just on my discernment of consecrated virginity alone.

The biggest reason for this is because, as I said, I feel like this is what God is calling me to do. Some people are great speakers and evangelizers. I'm not one of them. I'm not a great speaker; I stumble on and mumbles my words. I don' have that confidence speaking out on the faith as apologists do because I'm so worried about unintentionally leading people astray. That's why I write. I can think about what I want to say before I say it. I often write about what I do know and most of that is based on my own experience and studies. (Side note: what an appropriate day to say this; happy feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers!). I feel like God has given me a gift of being able to connect with others through the written word and that's why I continue to write.

Furthermore, I've been reflecting on The Rule of St. Benedict and how he asked his monks not to speak unless necessary; to be careful with the words they used. My beloved monks of Norcia have begun using sign language and speak as little as often (read: only when necessary) for the same reason. As an Oblate novice, this got me thinking about how I use words... and how careless I can be with them. I was a chatterbox as a child but, as I got older and became more introverted, that changed. Social media gave me a reason to return to my chatterbox ways... but I've seen just how shallow and utterly pointless some of those words can be. So, I'm going to take a cue from my spiritual father (St. Benedict) and spiritual home (Norcia) and be more careful with my words. I'm also going to do this in person but I don't see most of y'all offline so this just an additional "heads up" to friends I do actually see and talk to offline.

I made this decision before I read the National Catholic Register's article on Catholics' reflections on the last decade of social media. Reading it just reaffirmed the decision to use social media as sparingly as possible and to be more careful about what I share on it and on this blog. It feels like the right time to step back and be more intentional with the use of both the blog and social media. I guess the Holy Family did listen to my prayers because I'm starting to see the fruit of it.

Of course, there's more that goes along with this decision but those changes are of slightly different natures so I'll just leave that for the next post. All I'm going to say is that this digital detox month has been good for me. I feel calmer and less stressed out. I feel less pressured to be "on" at all times. And, most importantly, I like the transformation that's begun internally. God is definitely still making big changes in my life; changes for the better. :)

That is it for now. Thank you all so much for your continued prayers; you are all in mine. :)

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Virgin Martyr, an ER Trip, and an Earthquake

*takes out a white flag and slowly comes out of hiding spot*

Is it safe? Can I come out now?

My goodness, yesterday was a nightmare and a half. Nothing went as planned but, then again, nothing has been going according to plan these past 3 weeks. My screen-free plans? They've been going just "okay." Not as strict as I would've liked because of all the hiccups that have been going on and my need for my cell phone (lots of calls and prayer requests via Hootsuite).

What would've I have wanted to do yesterday? Catch up on emails, read more of the Oblate manual (I've fallen behind schedule due to all the craziness that's been happening lately), relax for a little bit, and immerse myself in Scripture. The perfect ending to the day would've been reading And You Are Christ by Fr. Thomas Dubay, recommended for those discerning consecrated virginity. It would've been fitting since it was the feast of St. Agnes of Rome. After reading her story, I felt a kinship to her. To avoid trouble, I'll leave it at that. I thought about what a perfect day it would've been to spend contemplating on my vocation and the possibility of my heart belonging solely to Him; to say, like St. Agnes, "I will have none other spouse but Him, I will seek none other." I'll have to update y'all on this soon. Let's just say that I keep meeting opposition and lack of support but that isn't deterring me from moving forward.

In between all of that I had planned on going to urgent care to get the numbness of my left side looked at and then head to the dentist because my molar had started to give me problems. It was supposed to be a little busy but not a crazy day. Ha!

I'd been having the numbness on and off since Saturday morning but I wasn't too concerned. I figured it was either an allergic reaction (though a strange one since it was only one side of my mouth; the side I don't chew on) or it might've been a molar infection (yep, same molar since September) that was creating pressure on the nerves because it was mostly near the area of the molar that was going numb. Still, I was advised by the after-hours doctor (at midnight; after the numbness began increasing in frequency) to go to urgent care to get it checked out "just in case."

I went to urgent care but they immediately sent me to the ER because numbness on one side of the face can have one of the symptoms for a stroke. I didn't think it was one -- nor did the after-hours doctor -- because I didn't have any facial drooping or other stroke symptoms but I did what I was told. So, I went to the ER and they got me into a room immediately. I thought it was going to be a quick-ish trip (they never last more than 3-4 hours) but the CAT scan machines were down so I was there for almost 6 hours. It wouldn't have been a problem except I was praying I would get out in time to see my dentist before they closed for the day... and until Thursday.

And if you're wondering, yes, I'm still having dental issues. Remember the whole issue with the shady dentist's office? "Thanks" to them, a root canal was denied by my insurance at my regular dentist's office. We can't even afford to get ourselves a new car to get around so I can't afford to pay for the root canals out of pocket. (side note: the generous GoFundMe campaign helped us get money for my mom's pre-dawn transportation to work but after the cut GoFundMe took for themselves and the $500 repairs we did on my car to help us get two more months-worth of rides from my car, we don't have enough to get a decent car. Even used cars are expensive in L.A.; we're looking at a $3500-$4000 estimate for a car that will last us a while.) I was supposed to get the molar pulled last month but my usual dentist ended up backing out, saying she didn't want to risk any complications with my low platelets even though my hematologist had signed off on it in November. I've been waiting since to get the referral to the specialist.

I went to get my referral last week when my molar started randomly throbbing, but they still made me wait a week because they were trying to figure out a way to help me with my insurance and to lower the out-of-pocket costs as much as possible. Well, it still got infected in the meantime because the temporary filling from September had worn down and they refused to put in another one, hence the numbness. They just kept saying, "Oh, just come in if it starts hurting and we'll just give you an antibiotic." That was exactly what I was trying to avoid because of how sensitive my stomach is. To quote the ER nurse yesterday, "Ugh. I don't know why dental offices do that!"

So, I prayed the Memorare emergency novena while waiting to get my CT scan results back, praying that I would get out of there in time to see the dentist. Thankfully, the novena worked and the ER doctor seems to have put pressure on the radiology department -- no stroke or anything of concern with the CT scan. The numbness is likely due to a dental abscess. My platelets dropped a considerable amount in less than 2 months as did my red blood count but I seemed healthy overall.

I was able to get out of the ER with 45 minutes to spare and took an Uber to my dentist's office. I got there in time... but I didn't get checked out. I was assured I would be seen but wasn't. Instead, the dentist just prescribed an antibiotic for the infection; apparently, all he could do for me. I'm like 85% sure the infection needs to be drained but they didn't so... let's just hope that the antibiotic will be enough until I can get the molar extracted.

We spent a lot on Uber transportation yesterday -- from my house to urgent care... to the ER... to the dentist's office... back to my apartment because I was in no condition to walk the mile back, especially at night in our not-so-safe neighborhood. There was also the expense of my mom taking it to the ER from work. Thankfully, my next-door neighbor was kind enough to drive me to get my antibiotics at the local pharmacy to avoid more expenses. That's just a bit more we chipped away from our new-to-us car savings but it was all necessary. Instead of bemoaning the costs, I'm giving thanks to God that the generosity of others helped us have the means to get to the hospital and back. Money can be saved up again but health is harder to recover.

Oh! If the day didn't sound crazy enough, it ended with a strong jolt during the last half hour or so of the day. It wasn't a big earthquake -- only a 3.6 -- but since we're not too far from the epicenter, we felt it a bit strongly. My mom was already asleep at that point and I was contemplating eating a little more to take the antibiotic when it struck. Needless to say, she lost sleep and I had to start my antibiotics today because of the lost time. Never a dull moment around here, eh?

Of course, me being me, I keep thinking about what God is trying to say to me during all of this; what He's trying to teach me. I'm reminded of what I've felt God has been saying to me during the silent moments: "Do what you know is right, good, and true." While in the ER, I was also able to meditate on the Divine Office readings and just how much St. Agnes trusted in the Lord despite all the hardships she endured prior to her martyrdom and that gave me peace of mind and heart.

I also think about how word of the year was "active" and how I feel like I should be more proactive in taking charge of my things instead of letting others decide for me; of letting to of, well, fear of being disrespectful by being more insistent. In this case, I probably should've been trying to pressure the dentist to get me that referral sooner or I should've gone elsewhere for help sooner.

Maybe all of this is happening because God is trying to show me that, while it's good to trust people and think the best of them, that I should also be on top of my things because I can't always rely on others. I should try to do as much as I can and ask God to help me with what I can't do on my own because only He has my best interest at heart.

Maybe I've been too trusting and that makes me more vulnerable to people who don't have the best intentions; I've always been a magnet for those types. This could be a lesson that the only One I can trust is Him and thus I should strengthen my relationship with Him.

Or perhaps these are things that are happening because I need more change and more closure -- a change of dentist, a change of my primary doctor, and finding a different mechanic because they all seem to have written me off lately. Maybe this all part of God's plans for a new beginning for my life, whether it be here or somewhere else. It seems that I've been tying up a lot of "loose ends" in L.A. lately and it's looking more and more like I'm going to (finally!) end up leaving the only hometown I've ever known. Even my next-door neighbor (the same one who took me to the pharmacy last night) offered to buy my car (yes, completely unusable as is; he has the funds to put more work into it as it only has 123k miles on it and the engine is still seemingly good) so if I needed to get rid of it to be able to move to another state, it would be done without problem.

Whatever it is that God has in store for me, I'm here for it. I'm still trying to figure out how to forgive the person who triggered a mini-relapse a week ago and mean it. I feel like I've forgiven him but that's how I felt last time and I obviously hadn't. Thankfully, I have a spiritual direction meeting coming up in a couple of weeks so I hope to get somewhere. In the meantime, I guess I'll keep offering up all these hard lessons and trying to stay afloat.

To say that my family has had a difficult start of the year would be an understatement. It seems like Mom and I are taking turns in who is dealing with difficult issues every couple of days. However, I believe that we're both going through these things because God has some amazing things in store for us. Whether we're atoning for sins, shedding things that keep us from him, or we're being prepared for something greater, only God knows. What I do know is that I completely trust in Him and that He is allowing this all to happen for the good of my soul.

Anyway, I just wanted to update y'all who might've been wondering what was going on with all the recent prayer requests. Trust me, I wouldn't have sent them if I didn't feel they were needed. Yes, even the prayer request to have my spiritual director return back home was necessary. His car was breaking down (parts of his car were literally falling off) and we were worried about his safety. And, no. I haven't logged in to social media since January 1st so if you're replying to my prayer request (being sent through Hootsuite), I won't get a chance to see or even answer them for about week and a half.

I hope y'all are having a much better time than I am. lol.

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Demolition Continues: Forgiveness Edition

Within a minute of getting home, I knew what I had to do: hole myself up in my room until he left. It was the safest option after such a shock. 

The feelings? Surprise, anxiety, and (eventually) anger and resentment.

The cause? Someone from my past (who I had avoided seeing at all costs) having the guts to show up at my home, unannounced, after more than a decade of having no communication with him. Oh, and anger at a neighbor who didn't know the situation and called him back (as he was nearly out of the front gate) when she saw me arriving home. She apologized afterward when she was made aware of why this person is not welcomed at my home.

I hate surprises, especially unpleasant ones. Yet, there I found myself, texting friends and asking them to pray that this person would leave my apartment as quickly as possible. I didn't leave my bedroom until I felt it was safe to do so, leaving my poor mother to do all the entertaining. I couldn't fake cordiality. I felt robbed of my peace and I was angry. Seething angry. It takes a lot for me to get that angry but, goodness, I was.

I won't go into too many details about who he was or what he did but let's just say he caused a lot of damage to not only me but my relationship with my father. It was due to his untruths that my father and I had a strained relationship for a long time; one that remained so until this person was caught in his own lies and my father redirected his anger towards him. After my father's death, he tried to do more damage with untruths but, again, he was caught and that severed any hopes of a relationship.

I honestly thought I had forgiven him over the years; that I no longer held any resentment towards him... until he showed up. He knew I didn't want to see him. My brothers had warned him, repeatedly, over the years. His calls went unanswered for years. Yet, he chose to show up and, basically, try to force me to see and talk to him. Nope. Sorry, buddy. Not happening. I guess I hadn't forgiven him after all.

I don't want to hold grudges against anyone. I want to be able to forgive people. I thought I had forgiven everyone who had hurt me... with the exception of the person who hurt me the most, recently. But that wound is still fresh so it'll take me some time to be able to not flinch when someone mentions them. Still, God has shown me that I haven't forgiven the person who showed up at my home... and that I need to. After all, no one can get to Heaven if they're unforgiving of someone who has done them wrong and I sincerely want to spend all eternity with God in Heaven.

I know it won't be easy. I can see (now that the anger has subsided) that God will use this situation to help me move towards forgiveness. I want to forgive him -- and, God willing, I will -- but I'm going to need a lot of help to do so. Enter: me pleading with God for the grace to do so because I can't on my own.

I was telling my mom (after he left) that I feel like I can forgive him... if I never have to see him again. It sounds so petty and uncharitable but I feel like it would be easier for me to be able to forgive him if I never saw him again. I don't want a relationship with him because of the damage he inflicted on my father and I. I also don't trust him to be honest and I cannot have any type of relationship with someone I don't trust. No, it would be best if I can work on forgiving him without having any contact with him again. 

Before you ask why I thought it was best for me to stay in my room: it was the most charitable thing I could do at that moment. I could've either stayed in my room (which I did) or I could've been incredibly rude because (as any of my friends will attest) I cannot fake what I'm feeling. You can just see what I'm thinking and feeling on my face. 

And, yes, I know that I failed at the Benedictine pillar of being hospitable but I was more concerned with my emotional and mental wellbeing at that moment. Imagine seeing someone who had caused a lot of hurt over the years after more than a decade of having nothing to do with them; after their being told you wanted nothing to do with them and their decision to still try it. Not very pleasant, friends. Thankfully, I had the excuse that I had a deadline and an article to write to make it slightly less rude. It was the truth. I had been planning on getting straight to work after Mass and an errand I needed to take my mom on since the previous night. I did excuse myself -- busying myself, writing the latest article while I waited for him to leave -- so, at least, I was able to speak the (non-angry) truth and not be a total jerk to him.

The kicker is that this all happened on the same day that a Mass was offered for me at my home parish. The Mass, which was requested by an anonymous person, was offered for my health and happiness. Yes, those exact words. And. yes, we attended said Mass. I even found a St. Philomena prayer placard someone had left for parishioners to take before we left, which I got excited over. I'm going to take a guess that it was St. Philomena's way of reminding me of both my vocation discernment and of her help if anything big (like this) happens. 

Hmm, this all happened roughly two hours after the Mass had ended. I don't blame God for it (nor am I angry with Him; no reason to be)... but I don't think it's a coincidence either. Remember the last post in which I said that my heart is yearning to belong solely to God? Perhaps, this is yet another thing I must work on; forgiving others so that my heart can belong more fully to Him. It would make sense. How can I love him if I can't love my worst enemy (and this person is as close as one gets to being considered an enemy of mine)?

I guess the demolition continues. As awful as it was (and it took me hours -- and about half of a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle solved -- afterward for me to feel calm again), I know God will use it for my own benefit. So, let's keep going, God. If You need to keep tearing me down and make me confront unpleasant things so that I can become the woman You want me to be, I won't fight it. I might grumble at first (as it is still the knee-jerk reaction) but I'll accept it and try to learn from it. Your will, not mine.

I'm not sure how long it'll take me to forgive this person but I'm going to try hard. I'm going to take this to prayer and have many, many conversations with God during my time in front of the tabernacle and Blessed Sacrament. I'm going to ask our Blessed Mother and St. Philomena for their help as well. I'm going to do all I can and ask God to help me because I need a boatload of grace to help me reach that goal of forgiveness. After all, anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die; it's just not good for the soul.

Anyway, just another little hiccup that I wanted to share on this journey. Maybe it'll help someone... or have someone share any tips that might've helped them if they were in the same boat. 

Please say a prayer for me as I begin to try to forgive and heal from this massive wound I didn't know I still had.

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

P.S. Thank you for the prayers for Mom and I over the weekend. Two major decisions were made after it was clear that they were the best options and we will be acting on them as soon we're able to. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

God is Tearing Me Down to Build Me Up Anew

Lately, I've had a lot of endings and just a couple of new beginnings. In a way, it seems like God is tearing things down in my life to build it up anew.

I never talk about this particular topic but I'll make the exception this time around. Wedding and marriage plans were made for months up until a few weeks ago. Yes, you read that correctly. I told y'all I'm a ninja when it comes to my personal life. lol. Very few people knew about it; that I was discerning the possibility of marriage with someone. It was during the 54-day Rosary novena that everything changed. I won't go into details (this is something between God, Our Lady, and I) but let's just say that my heart began aching for God during this time.

I didn't like that my heart didn't belong solely to Him. I felt torn away from Him and I couldn't figure out why. I hated that feeling. As I continued the novena, the vocation of consecrated virginity kept coming up as did St. Philomena and (later on) St. Agatha. To this day, I still feel like God is whispering, "I want you to belong to Me. I want your heart to belong to Me." As I had said before, I still don't know if this is meant to be my vocation but I do know God wants my heart and my focus on Him right now. If He wants it, He can have it without reservations on my end.

When it became clear that God wanted me to pursue this path, it was hard. All those months of planning and dreaming... for what? Nothing? But I knew I couldn't ignore it. I knew God had placed this desire in my heart for a reason. I've always said that I've wanted nothing more than to do His will for my life so I had to put my money where my mouth was. It was difficult. I was heartbroken. It didn't end well, but that was to be expected. Still, my sole comfort was that God wanted my heart and He would take care of it in a way no one else could.

Similarly, I had made plans (for months) to move out of my mother's house, on my own or with friends. Every time I tried to leave, there were health or financial obstacles. My spiritual director, who had encouraged me to leave for months, said it was a clear sign that God wanted me to stay put. "You may not know why but He's made it clear that you should stick around." So, I have.

During the digital detox, God has opened up my eyes to great faults in myself that I was spiritually blind to. It was a hard pill to swallow but I couldn't deny what I was seeing in myself. I knew that these would've created major problems in both a marriage and in a situation with roommates because I haven't learned how to master them. I thanked God when my eyes were opened and I (admittedly, ashamedly) accepted that these things were something I need to work on.

This last week (and some odd days) since my digital detox began, I've been mostly trying to work on my relationship with God and on learning how to best manage my character flaws. I've been praying the entire Divine Office most days -- yes, Matins included. Lectio Divina is something I do regularly now. My prayer life has changed along with some of the changes in my life and it's shaping up so beautifully.

I'll be the first to admit I don't like change, nor do I do well with change. Yet, I find myself in the middle of a lot of endings and very few beginnings. Some of these changes aren't even bad or important ones. Virgin Mobile USA is no longer operating as of next month and it's making me wistful since they're the only wireless company I've had since I got my first cell phone in 2004. One of my favorite bands, MuteMath (whose self-titled album became the soundtrack of my reversion), has disbanded. Moving plans and plans to possibly sell my car (which we tried to salvage through repairs; it broke down on us 4 times this past week) will be decided soon. I've lived in the same apartment since I was 5 years old and my little Honda is the only car I've ever driven in the 9 years I've had my license.

As you can probably surmise, I like stability and being in my comfortable little bubble where everything is predictable and routine. All these changes are throwing me for a loop. Add going from having plans for my vocation and future to playing things by ear to the mix and you can guess how I've been doing lately. Yet, this is what God has been doing in my life and I'm learning how to make the best out of things.

I feel like the conversations between God and I lately have been a variation of:
"Do you trust Me?"
You know I do, Lord.
"Then let go. Do what you know is right, good, and true. Love me. Love others. Follow My commandments. Live in a state of grace. I'll take care of everything else."

Obedience is very important in the life of Benedictines -- both religious and Oblates. I've had to learn to let go of my expectations and plans and let God lead me down the path He wants for me. Under the guidance of my spiritual director and Oblate master, I will continue to look at what God is calling me to do with humble obedience. No arguments. No grumbling. Just a complete submission to His will. Of course, I will take responsibility for my actions and prayerful go forward and will adjust things as they come up; as God reveals them to me.

So, that's where I find myself. I don't know where most of the work is being done -- interiorly or exteriorly. Perhaps it's an even split. All I know is that my life is being changed completely. Beyond a few friendships and possibly my work/career, I don't foresee anything being the same by the time a new normal is established in my life.

I've never been much of a risk-taker but I keep thinking of the movie Up! and of young Carl saying "Adventure is out there!" Indeed, adventure is out there and God is pulling me out of my safe bubble to experience more of life.

As I get closer to my 35th birthday (5 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days, but who is counting?) I'm becoming more and more aware that this chapter of my life -- the first decade after my father's death -- is coming to an end and new things await me. God has some amazing plans for me so I'm going to be a brave little toaster and soldier on. May He tear me down completely so that I may become the woman He wants me to be; one worthy of spending eternity with Him.

Anyway, just some Sunday afternoon thoughts for y'all.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Mom and I. Yes, we still have a big decision to make that will change this family, for better or worse, and how we'll go forward from this point on. Yet another adventure, one I will be sharing with her.

I hope you have all had a lovely week and had a blessed Sunday!

As always, thank you for reading and God bless! :)

Monday, January 6, 2020

My Breakdown and What it Did to My Faith

This is hard for me to admit but, this is my journey and if it helps someone it'll be worth saying it:

I had a breakdown a couple of days ago.

Feel free to judge me as you want. The stigma of it makes me feel ashamed but I've come to terms with the fact that I was a lot stronger for much longer than I should've been.

There were a number of contributing factors that just added up at the worst time; all at the same time. Those I've trusted with the details the two main causes -- who hurt me and what happened. No one who knows the details is happy with those involved. I have never seen so much swearing coming from my friends before; they're that angry on my behalf.

Then we have my digital burnout. I don't think I need to say anything about that; y'all know what has happened. Y'all can see some of the hurtful messages I have received in the days prior to my digital detox break -- at least the ones that don't have their accounts protected. I don't need to tell y'all how overwhelmed I felt but y'all also didn't know this happened during one of the most difficult times in my personal life. (side note: if you hate seeing my updates and prayer requests on Twitter so much, please just unfollow me instead of telling me that no one cares about what I'm going through and/or that no one is going to help me when I ask for prayers. It's incredibly hurtful when all I'm asking for is prayers.)

To everyone who kicked me while I was already down, I want to say: I forgive you. I don't want to feel anger or resentment, though I have. I don't want to blame anyone for causing my breakdown, though others have and still do. I'm simply going to pray for those who hurt me and ask God to merciful.

Have I also mentioned that my car broke down (again; still at the mechanic's), that our check for the rent bounced (and now we have to pay $100+ we don't have due to the error; thanks, Chase!), and that I experienced a strong spiritual attack all on the same day as well? Yes, it all happened at once and within a couple of hours.

Hitting rock bottom is incredibly humbling. At first, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like I deserved it -- all of what happened. Friends will argue with me on those points but that's what I believed. It took a lot of (patiently) walking me through everything that happened to help me get through the worst of it. I now understand that I could have prevented some of it -- up to a point -- but that the bulk of it was out of my hands, I did everything I could to prevent things from ending the way it did. I am so incredibly grateful to God for placing the right people in my path during those dark days because it was really bad.

Going to First Friday adoration last weekend -- though I couldn't stay for the entire hour like I had planned -- was refreshing balm for my weary soul. Immersing myself in scripture, particularly the Psalms, has been the nourishment that has kept me from completely breaking down to the point of needing hospitalization. My regime as a Benedictine Oblate novice -- praying the Divine Office, doing Lectio Divina, and doing everything with God in mind -- has saved me from spiraling down into an even deeper depression.

Providentially, I received my Epiphany gift to myself on the day of the breakdown. That gift? A Benedictine crucifix -- a crucifix with a St. Benedict medal imbedded in it -- blessed and sent by the Benedictine monks at Clear Creek Abbey. It almost felt like God was saying, "Here. You're going to need this. Hold onto it and never forget that the crosses you bear will only bring you closer to Me." And it has felt that way.

Though I hit that wall, God has never been far from my mind. Though my mind might focus on the latest calamity for a minute, I've somehow managed to find God in it.

He's there with me in the arguments and anger, in the tears and sorrow, and in the attacks. He's there with me, reassuring me that it's all going to be okay. No saint went without their trials on this earth. While I'm nowhere near being a saint, I know that God never allows anything to happen which won't sanctify us. I know that if I have to go through this, it's all for a reason.

Perhaps I need to shed vanity, pride, and/or other vices I may have. Perhaps I need to atone for any past sins I might've committed. Perhaps I'm just called to endure suffering to offer it up for others, especially the Church. I don't know the reason (or reasons). I may never know them, but I have no doubt that God is going to use all of this for good because God is good all the time.

The story of Job has been on my mind these last couple of days. I am reminded of how I need to strive to stay faithful to God's commandments and always praise Him for the blessings He has given me, even during the most difficult moments of my life. And, it's not always easy. I've asked God why He has allowed this to happen; why I must suffer. It's a human response to it. I have my moments of "Well, I deserve it", unlike Job who was innocent of wrongdoings. But then I'm reminded that I am a beloved daughter of the Lord's. Just as my earthly father would've hated seeing me in pain and suffering from a broken heart, I know that God does not delight in seeing what is happening. But, as I said, I know that this is all happening for a reason so I accept it. That's when I take refuge in the Psalms, doing Lectio Divina; because I can always find some words of consolation from them.

Just how has my breakdown affected my relationship with God? It has only strengthened it to a degree I didn't know was possible. As I'm writing this, I've reached the point where I'm even grateful for the trials because they have only brought me closer to God.

I meant it when I said that I was prepared to give my heart to God, even if it had to break otherwise. If breaking me down -- making me hit the lowest of the low in a way I had never experienced -- is the way to help me be able to fully give myself to God, then I give thanks for the hardships. I want to belong fully to God and if it means that I have to "start over" (in a sense) from rock bottom then I'm prepared to do that.

After adoration last Friday, I got to chat with a fellow parishioner who helped me see things from a different perspective on one of the main causes of my breakdown. I saw the immense blessings that came from it. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, a ladybug landed on my back (which someone else pointed out because I obviously couldn't see it). It did not want to leave my side. The lovely part of these two things -- the chat and the ladybug -- was that it reminded me of Our Blessed Mother. After all, she was the one who interceded for me -- oh, if I could only tell y'all details of how she blessed me through this crummy situation! Also, legend has it that ladybugs were named after Our Blessed Mother after Catholic farmers asked her intercessions so... hard not to think about her. Having that ladybug on my back felt like Mama Mary saying she also had my back. Badda-tssss.

Things are still a mess. I still have to figure out how to heal, how to move forward, and how to work things out (e.g. the car and rent issues). I'm still very much hurting and fragile. I have to be very careful because I know another big things will push me over the edge and I don't want that to happen. Trust me, it can very easily go there but I have God and Our Lady on my side and I place all my trust in them.

Please, say a prayer for those involved because the two big causes are not pretty and they're not going to go away easily. I pray that those involved have their hearts and minds enlightened by the Holy Spirit to ensure that there is no more hurt inflicting on anyone. One of those people I can (and have) absolutely avoid; the other I cannot, despite everyone's best efforts to put a considerable amount of distance between the two of us.

It's been an incredibly difficult start to 2020 but I know that God will bring good out of this.

Anyway, I hope to write again soon and update y'all with (God willing) better news. For now, I just want to thank everyone who has prayed for me. You have all been in my prayers.

Always, thanks for reading and God bless. :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Starting My Digital Detox: The Rules and the Feelings

Just before I started this blog post, I almost broke down crying. Why? Because I'm overwhelmed and burnt out. Hearing text messages -- especially multiple sent back-to-back, seeing my notifications on social media explode, having people I don't know give their opinions on my life and decisions... it's all too much for me.

When I asked for prayers a couple of weeks ago, stating that I haven't been well for a while, I wasn't kidding. I'm beyond stressed out and my mental and emotional health are barely hanging on. I don't normally share this but I'm going through an incredibly difficult time in my personal life right now. I'm also emotionally exhausted from the ups and (mostly) downs of my health ailments. I want to cry all the time and the toll of it all has begun affecting my health as well. It's like a vicious circle that doesn't end. I've reached my breaking point. That's why I decided, weeks ago, to take a digital detox break. I wish I had started it sooner, though, because I've been on the verge of tears all day today.

I'm so grateful to everyone who follows me and interacts with me on social media... but it seems that I can't post anything these days without at least 3 people contradicting me, telling me what to do, or trying to dissuade me from what I've decided. This is especially true when it comes to health and faith matters. I know most have the best intentions but it's too much for me. I'm going through one of the most emotionally draining times of my life and having these types of comments are not helpful. In fact, they make me feel worse.

I didn't want this to be a venting post. I'm sorry if it came across that way but I wanted y'all to understand why I've decided to do this.

So, what will my break (hopefully) look like? Here are my rules for the next month:

Smartphone usage:
- I'm keeping my phone in a separate room from me while I'm at home. It will be kept on "do not disturb" mode all day. The only calls that will go through are from my mother, my older brother, and my best friend (who is in wedding planning stress mode; please say a prayer for her). I'll have the ringer on just for them so I can hear when they call -- and they only call when it's absolutely necessary.
- I will check for important messages and calls for 5 minutes only after each of Divine Office hours. So, after 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. while I'm awake. After 9 p.m., I won't check messages until the next morning. If I see no messages during my breaks, I'll just move forward with other plans that don't involve my phone.
- I will reply to urgent prayer requests and messages during those 5-minute breaks.
- If someone wants to chat, I will make the time (in advance) to do so. That can be on the phone or in person. Snail mail is also welcomed. This rule applies to only those I know offline or who I've trusted enough with my personal information.
- The only social media app I have on my phone -- Instagram -- will be deleted for the month.

Laptop usage:
I can't completely leave all screens behind for the entire month because, as a freelance writer, I need to do research and submit articles but I will be limiting the use of them overall.
- I will access my email only when I'm on my laptop. The limit will be 3x per day -- once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night. The limit will be for 5 minutes during the day breaks and 30 minutes at night.
- I'm leaving all non-work or personal emails for the weekends. I will reply to non-urgent personal emails at the end of the day but anything that comes from a mailing list (e.g. articles and blog posts) will be left until the weekend.
- I will do most of my writing offline and will then transfer it to the appropriate mediums as needed.
- The laptop will be used only to write, research, link, and respond to emails during the week. Once those things have been taken care of, I will turn it off until I need it for productivity reasons. I'm giving myself limited time over the weekend to catch up on articles and blogs.
- All social media posts to links to my articles and blog posts will be sent through Hootsuite and some will get scheduled if I have more than one to share per day.
- I'm avoiding all streaming content all month that isn't necessary for work (and it rarely is). The exception to this rule is when I'm visiting someone who has streaming content on, e.g. a movie or music.
- I've had the Freedom app in place since last year and I will add even more restrictions to it in case of temptations. It's already helped me out a lot since I got it in April. (And, yes, that's an affiliate link; just a heads up.)

TVs and iPods:
- If I want to watch anything, it'll have to be on TV, either via the blu-ray player or the antenna we use to watch local channels.
- In the spirit of the detox, I'm also limiting how often I use these mediums. I'll use them only when there's someone else watching it (e.g. my mother or if a friend visits).
- I will most likely use my iPod touch the most during the break but with the WiFi turned off. I have a ton of music I've purchased over the years downloaded onto it for when I'm away from the radio and/or want to listen to audiobooks. No, audiobooks won't be streamed; they'll be downloaded. Ditto with podcasts.
- I have radio access at home and in my car to listen to Classical KUSC (since it's local) so that also takes care of the possibility of wanting to listen to something new on my monthly break.

I have a lot of plans to keep myself occupied. Even when I'll be resting (because I'm still at the beginning of my physical recovery mode), I'll have physical books to read, a guitar to play, some modern calligraphy to practice (I'm making the place cards for another best friend's wedding), and sewing to learn. Oh, yes, and lots of places to visit and things to do outside the house when I'm able to get out for a little while.

I'm doing this detox for two main reasons:

1) In hopes to disengage from being so hyper-connected in hopes that it will help my mental health. I don't want to have to go through a mental breakdown while trying to recuperate my physical health as well. I need peace. I need quiet. I need to not worry about anything except getting myself healthy once again and doing God's will (more on that in a bit). If I'm bored (and it's good to be bored; it helps with your creativity), I'll just have to opt for high-quality leisure activities after work and prayers are done.

2) Most importantly, in hopes to discern my vocation AND get ready for my Final Act of Oblation in a couple of months. I need to quiet my mind and my heart so that I can hear God more clearly. I may not currently know what my vocation is but I have zero doubts in my mind that I'm called to be an Oblate. Thus, I need to really embrace the Benedictine lifestyle now that I'm not sleeping, bedridden or dealing with other physical obstacles most days like I was for the first couple of months of my novitiate. I need to spend even more time in prayer and doing Lectio Divina. I need to attend Mass and do Holy Hours as frequently as I can. I've given myself the goal to learn the Act of Oblation and other prayers in Latin as well so I have work to do.

There are a number of things I'll be working on during this month to prepare myself -- especially to better myself as a Benedictine Oblate -- but I think I'll leave those details for future blog posts. And, yes, I do firmly intend to blog more often because I have a lot of really exciting things coming up.

So, those are my plans from tomorrow (World Introvert Day) through Candlemas (February 2nd). Once my detox is over, I'll share with y'all my details on how I'll slowly reintroduce social media and other digital devices; what the changes will be and what will be completely eliminated.

Alright, I guess that's it for now. Please say a prayer for me during this time. Of course, I will keep y'all in my prayers as well! I hope to blog again before the week ends but don't quote me on that. There's a couple of things I want to do offline first. That's why I finished and submitted my work yesterday as well; to have the rest of the week off to focus on that. Let's just say that I'm taking "World Introvert Day" seriously tomorrow and I might extend it through the weekend. ;)

I hope you all had a lovely New Year's Eve and Day. Merry Christmas (until Candlemas for me but Epiphany for most Catholics).

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!