Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021: The End of an Era & Beginning of a New Life


And just like that, we’re ready to say “goodbye” to 2021. Time is flying by! 

2021 will forever hold a special place in my heart as both the year I got a second chance at life and the year in which I closed a major chapter of my life and began a new one I wasn’t expecting. 

Where to start with this incredible year…? Maybe I’ll do a season-by-season recap. 

Beginning of the Year:

Oh boy… I started 2021 in tears and I cried more in the first 21 days of the year than I did for the rest of the year. It was an emotionally draining time but I’m glad it didn’t stay that way. I was still adjusting to my new normal and dealing with a lot of wounds that God would later begin to heal. It unknowingly became the theme of my year: healing from the past and a new beginning. 

In February I returned to what I loved most — writing! My first article (and biggest hit of the year) back was the story of how I’d lost my eyesight in late 2020 and how Blessed Carlo Acutis’ intercession saved my life. I would slowly return to my weekly writing schedule for Epic Pew as the year progressed. I would also write three additional articles — my first in almost 4 years — for Verily Magazine. So far only one was been published but I’m excited for y’all to read the rest as they get scheduled. 


It became rather obvious that God had a lot of interior restorations to make in my heart. Our Lady of Sorrows accompanied me from Lent through my birthday in late May. God made me very aware of the wounds in my heart; wounds that were still open and had changed me for the worst. I started work on healing them during this time. Some wounds took longer to heal than others; some I’m still working on. But it was such a fruitful Lent that would lead me to the end of the most difficult year of my life (my 35th) and the “end of an era” full of illness, wounds, and suffering. 


My 36th year started off with a bang… and it was actually quite disastrous at first. Basically, I plucked up the courage to do something that I *had* to do — have an incredibly difficult but necessary conversation with someone who I was once very close to. It was full of closure that we both needed. It turned something very painful and bitter into something healing and beautiful. At least, it was for me. After that moment, everything changed and fell into place. It was at that moment that I knew my life would never be the same again… and I was right. 

Right before summer began I realized that the chapter to my “old life” had closed and a new chapter had begun. My Oblate master approved my Oblate name (Marie-Therese, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Therese) and I began the countdown to my trip out to Clear Creek Abbey, which I was not expecting at the beginning of the year.


Those who know me well know that the summertime is my least favorite season for many reasons, including the fact that up until this year, it was the season when i would always get sick and have the worst things happen to me. From almost losing my life in 2020 to seeing my father actually lose his life in 2009 (both in the month of July), I’ve had the worst memories of the summer. But one thing helped me end that string of bad summers: my trip to Clear Creek Abbey and my Final Act of Oblation. 

I don’t think I need to tell y’all how amazing that trip was for me. The day of my final promises (the feast of Queenship of Mary & Immaculate Heart of Mary) was the most beautiful day, even if I did end up getting sick right after the final promises. Oh yes, I didn’t share that but I think it was a combination of me not being physically ready for all that kneeling I did during the ceremony plus a prescribed vitamin I was taking that made me sick every time I took it (my doctor discontinued it weeks later). One of my lovely brothers — a monk at Clear Creek — was kind enough to wheel me up to the altar rail in a wheelchair because I felt too weak to walk and he did not want me to miss out on receiving the Eucharist. I think only my oblate sister and those who were there knew about it… until now. I was fine after resting after Mass. If you  read my blog post about the trip and ever wondered why Vespers that day was the only Office Hour I missed with the monks, that’s why! Still, I wouldn’t have traded any single moment at Clear Creek Abbey for anything in the world. Best. Day. Ever!   

The trip to Clear Creek in August also saw a new me. Or perhaps an old me I hadn’t seen in over a decade and a half. I had the most energy I’ve had in my entire adult life following the trip, something that has continued and even gotten better as the time has passed. For the first time in a long time, I no longer need naps throughout the day. I’ve been able to be more active and actually exercise, though in a way that doesn’t feel like forced exercise to me.

In early September I assembled my new bed… made out of wood (read: it’s heavy). Yes, my mother helped me keep parts together as I screwed and nailed the the pieces together but… I did it! I did it with my visual impairment. I had to figure out what part went where and what screwdriver I needed based solely on touch. It was hard and I had to redo a couple of things before I was done but I did it. It was probably one of my prouder moments this year. 

Autumn and Beginning of Winter:

I celebrated the 15th anniversary of my reversion with a no-holds-bar account of my life pre-reversion and how things have changed on this blog. 

My autumn was relatively quiet as I focused on writing and also recovery after a much-needed surgery and a mini health setback after some medication and lifestyle changes temporarily threw my system off. It wasn’t anything to worry about, just my body just needing rest and adjustment to the new changes. 

Before the surgery, I choreographed a ballet-modern dance dance. It was completely unexpected but it was the most freeing thing I’d done in a long time. It was also the first time I truly felt like the old me. I took everything I’ve seen and learned and let the music inspire me. I came up with something I really loved and was proud of doing it. My calves and feet hated me after but it was so wonderful to move with so much freedom for the first time since losing my eyesight. I actually started choreographing a new dance to a new song by the same producers last week but I’m going slower this time so I don’t overdo it. 

And that leads me to this: for the first time since before my reversion, I’ve felt like myself. The silly, bubbly (not my word), energetic me who couldn’t sit still for long and danced and sang every chance she got. The girl who loved much and deeply. But there were also some improvements. I also became the girl who didn’t care what others thought of her while still caring for others. I became the girl who didn’t feel like she had to prove anything to anyone while being aware that there’s a fine line between confidence bordering on pride and confidence with humility, the latter of which I’m still working on. I’m now the girl who is in love with life and Christ and that’s all that matters to me. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m finally who God has always meant me to b, it just took me a lot of spectacular falls and life lessons to get here. 

On the career front:

I don’t remember when it was exactly but I started work on novel four sometime in the spring or summer. It’s been exciting because it’s like nothing I’ve ever written before. I did research for it and, in many ways, it’s become the most challenging to write, visual impairment excluded. That’s all I’m saying for now. I’m aiming for a Spring 2022 release date but don’t quote me. With my eyesight and the fact that I have to do everything on my phone and Fire tablet, it’s going to be a longer process than usual. 

As for the rest, you can find all of my Epic Pew articles of 2021 (and, really, all articles from day 1) here and my latest for Verily Magazine here

Wrap up:

I started off the year in one of the lowest places I could’ve been but it changed and it ended up being one of my favorite years. I’m someone completely different… but not. God has let the good in me shine through while making me aware of my faults and humbling me through them. I find myself smiling, laughing and crying happy tears more often than not. I find the beauty in things and the silver lining in all things. I have a confidence that I’ve never experienced in my life and an energy that I hadn’t felt since my teens when I was heavily involved in sports and dance. I’m not afraid to be myself, believe what I believe, love what I love, and own up to and learn from my mistakes without beating myself up over them. I like who I became this year and I hope this new version of myself sticks around for a long time. 

I love that I’ve found myself doing things I’ve always loved but hadn’t enjoyed since before my father passed away 12 years ago. I’m enjoying simple pleasures that take me back to the beauty of life. I love that music is once again making me happy through dance, song, and even playing instruments. I love that the terms of endearment I used to use with friends have found themselves back in my vocabulary. I love that I once again feel love, after feeling so cold and closed off for so many years. 

I’m so grateful that God, through His infinite love and mercy, has helped me find myself again; has helped me remember who I am beneath all the sorrows and strife. He has opened my heart once again. He has shown me how much I love Christ and how Christ is the only man who could ever have my heart in its entirety. I’m so thankful that He has always reminded me how much He loves me despite my spectacular fails. 

I’m ending the year with this phrase: “I’m not afraid. I was born to do this.” That’s St. Joan of Arc. As someone who was born on her feast day and whose last name means “warrior” — I think the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something. Perhaps it’s to not be afraid of what’s coming up; to trust that God will give me the graces necessary for whatever He has in store for me. 

To quote my forever saint crush, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, “Verso l’alto!” To the heights. 

Goodbye, 2021! Thank you for giving me the most amazing year full of love, adventures, and some of the best memories I’ve made since high school. You were definitely my favorite year since 2005. 

Hello, 2022! I know what changes are coming up in the near future but I don’t know what other adventures I will have. I cannot wait to see what this new year will have in store for me and I’m excited to be able to share it all with y’all. 

Alright, I think that’s enough for now, don’t you think? lol. 

I hope you all have a lovely end of the year and a beautiful beginning of 2022! 

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! 


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Disappointed with Catholic Media

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m sincerely disappointed with the direction Catholic media is going in. No, not just social media but all forms of it. Print. Online. Etc. It’s like we’re losing our focus on the True, Good, and Beautiful for cheap facsimiles that lead us further away from God. 

Yes, I’m fully aware that I’m “part of the problem” as a Catholic freelance writer. But it’s that insight that I’ve had of how things work behind the scenes that have me partially disappointed. 

This is not me bashing Epic Pew, the website I write for on a regular basis. The insights I’m talking about are the stories I’ve heard and even some of the experiences I’ve had over the years in the Catholic publishing sphere. From publishers not wanting to publish or even look at book manuscripts because the writer doesn’t have “enough” followers on social media (something that I haven’t personally experienced but have heard about from good friends) to editors completely changing articles to make them more like clickbait and even pitting writers against each other as if they were in a competition to see who is “best” — it’s not the easiest field to work in. And, to top it off, we generally don’t get paid very well. This is a problem across the board — not just Catholic media — but it’s more disappointing because I always believed we were all trying to be better than that. 

It may be my own naïveté or my penchant for thinking the best of everyone to a blind, rose-colored default but I always assumed that since we were Catholic, things would be a bit better than the secular media. After all, we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves. We should be trying to be lights in this crazy world. But, sadly, we’re moving more and more far away from that. 

I’ve recently had to unsubscribe from many podcasts that I once enjoyed because of the divisive content they’ve been putting out over the last couple of months. Unfortunately, we all know that controversy generates traffic to websites and specific accounts. And that’s why some people do it; for the monetary aspect. It doesn’t seem right to me. 

Again, perhaps I’m too naive but I think that presenting truths and helping bring the Word to as many people as we can is what’s most important. That is why I think I’ll never have any success as a writer… and I’m okay with that. I want to share my journey as a Catholic on here and bring material that can help others through my articles. And, okay, sometimes I’ll be a little silly because life’s too short but still. 

I’ve already spoken a lot about social media so I’ll just add one extra thing about it; something I want to clear up:

I’m using Twitter less often because it’s where most of the infighting happens and I don’t have the mental energy for it on most days. If I don’t reply to all the messages it’s because I want to spend as little time on it. I see you and I pray for you but being logged in for more than 3 minutes at a time isn’t good for me. I don’t want my feed drenched with subtweets and uncharitable remarks. Did y’all know I had absolutely no idea about the controversy on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe because I’m not on Twitter much and I’m careful about who I follow on social media? True story. It wasn’t until I asked a friend about it that I found out. 

The less Catholic media I consume, the more authentically Catholic I feel. It feels like it should be the other way around — that the more I know the better I’ll be — but that’s not been my experience. The more I know, the heavier and wearier my heart becomes. It becomes a continuous pull away from Scripture and what Jesus taught us; a magnet that attracts everything that will pull me down rabbit holes that will waste my time and mental space that I can better dedicate to God and doing His will.

I keep remembering what Jordan Burke (who many of you know as Dan Burke’s son or “the dude who runs Do The Hard Things”) said a few weeks ago: over consumption of media — even Catholic media — is never a good thing. What does knowing every little bit of “breaking” and “latest” news add to your life? I don’t know about y’all but most of doesn’t add anything to my life whatsoever. It just fills me with knowledge that I could’ve gone my entire life not knowing and still have had a wonderful life. In fact, I’m starting to see the wisdom behind the often lambasted idiom “ignorance is bliss.” Being simple of mind and heart is not a bad thing, and I’m starting to see how my disconnection from the 24/7 news and media cycle has improved my quality of life and even my spiritual life.

And, to paraphrase Jordan again, Catholics lived hundreds of years without knowing all the latest news about Vatican scandals or even news on a more local level and they were able to survive and even thrive in their lives. Cloistered nuns and monks like my beloved brothers at Clear Creek don’t know all of what’s going on in the world yet they will undoubtedly produce some of the best saints of our generation.

I don’t need to know about the latest controversy. I don’t want to hear distorted sound bites or “news” that is presented in a sensationalist way to push a specific agenda. I want to be inspired to be a saint. I want content that will keep God at the forefront of my mind. And I want to be better at producing content that will do the same for others. Do I want to be informed of what’s happening? Sure. But I don’t need to know everything. I *don’t* have want to know. 

I’m becoming more and more selective about the media I consume. All of this started months ago but I’m really doing some major changes this Advent. There are websites like Catholic Exchange that have wonderful content that inspires me. There are certain Catholic news websites that present the facts and try to keep clickbait titles to a minimum. These are becoming increasingly rare but they exist. It’s the same with podcasts, socia media accounts, etc. I also love websites like FORMED which has solid Catholic content without the craziness. In fact, I’m saving up to get an annual subscription so I can kick some of the secular sites like Netflix and Disney+ with content that will be better for my soul. I stopped listening to the news last year so whatever I know I find out from friends or family. 

And because i (sadly) need to say this every time I post something like this: if you want to be in the know of everything that happens or look at these things differently — that’s totally your decision. I’m not shaming you for it. I’m simply talking about things from my perspective and what works and doesn’t for me. Being inundated with about 95% of what’s out there isn’t good for me. That 5% is and I’ll continue to frequent it in hopes that it’ll help my own spiritual journey. 

Anyway, just some “controversial” thoughts I’ve had bouncing around in my head for days. I needed to get them out so I can focus on more silence for this Ember week. 

I hope y’all are doing well. 

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! 


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Missing Home


I’ve been missing my spiritual home quite fiercely lately. Part of that has to do with the fact that I had never felt “at home” anywhere else in my life. I was born, raised, and am currently still stuck in Los Angeles. I’ve traveled to other states and countries but I’ve never felt as I belonged anywhere… not like I did at Clear Creek Abbey. I keep saying that I left my heart there because it feels like I did. I only spent 4 days there but, from the moment we drove through the monastery gates, I knew I was home. 

Leaving was hard. I half jokingly said I was going to ask that my things be shipped out to Oklahoma because I didn’t want to leave. I might’ve even teared up a bit but tried to hide it a little bit. The longing to be back there has hit me a bit more lately, probably because of the Oblation promises renewal last month and the beginning of the new liturgical year. 

I don’t know how things are there in the winter (besides it being snowy and cold) but I imagine I would easily adapt to it out of my love for CC. It was so hot and humid when I went in late August but I was surprised at how easily I got used to it in such a short amount of time. And those of y’all who know me well know I absolutely loathe hot and humid weather. 

I miss waking up in the room I had at St. Mary’s. I didn’t know it used to be one of the monk’s former cell (before the house became a guesthouse) until after we left. I felt at peace in my little “cell”. Though I had the room to myself, I shared the bathroom with another guest whom I didn’t know. She was so lovely and it surprised me how easily we were able to share a bathroom and coordinate despite only meeting when we arrived. 

I miss the little trip from the guesthouse to the church, passing some of the areas where some of the animals and gardens were kept. 

I miss watching the sun set from my bedroom window and the windows in the living room. 

I miss hearing the music of the cicadas. Yes, really. 

I miss getting up early and heading to morning prayer and/or Mass before breakfast. 

I miss praying with and hearing my brother monks chanting the Divine Office hours in the crypt. 

I just miss Clear Creek. I miss it so much I’ve even looked into possibly moving out to Tulsa. It would make more sense (spiritually) for me to find a place closer to the monastery but my health would require me to be in a larger city or in the suburbs near it. An adrenal crisis can be fatal so I have to be within reasonable driving distance from a hospital until (and if) I recover from my secondary adrenal insufficiency. Maybe one day I will be able to live closer to Clear Creek but, for now, I know God has other plans for me. 

For now, I keep reminding myself of the words my spiritual director told me: I’m a missionary, in a way. My spiritual home is in Oklahoma but I live several states away in California. As an Oblate, I belong to the monastery but I cannot live there. No matter where I will live and move to, I will always be a representative of the monastery. I have to be very conscious that what I do won’t reflect badly on them. 

My failures aren’t a reflection of them but I really don’t want to let them down so I’m trying to be more aware of what I say and do. In a way, this is all preparing me for a life as (God willing) a consecrated virgin as well. Just like I represent CC as an oblate, I’ll represent the diocese where I will be consecrated and, to a certain extent, the Church. It honestly makes me feel a little stressed because I know my flaws and my failures and fear that I’ll do something incredibly dumb that will let people down. But, at the same time, I know that God will give me the graces I need to fulfill my vocation as well as I can; I just need to stay close to Him to be able to do that. 

In a way, I will do the opposite of my oblate namesake, St. Therese. She wanted to be a missionary but she ended up being a missionary in her heart, at her Carmel. I will be a missionary out in the world while my heart remains steadfast at Clear Creek. And, ultimately, our true home is Heaven and I need to keep that in mind. I may miss my earthly spiritual home but it’s only my temporary home. And perhaps the longing for my spiritual home will help keep me on track to one day be at my (and our) eternal home in Heaven. 

It’s currently raining (yay!!) so I’m going to go enjoy this wonderful loveliness since we’ve had a very dry year in southern California this year…

… and now I’m remembering how beautiful and green Oklahoma looked when I was at CC. I loved seeing and hearing it rain out there. Le sigh. Lol. 

I hope you’re all doing well! 

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

It’s Been Two Years…

 I’ve officially been discerning consecrated virginity for two years now. Actually, it was two years ago last month but the date passed without me realizing it. It’s been a crazy yet wonderful two years that have seen some of my biggest life trials, changes, and milestones. 

Two years ago I was still trying to recover from the emotional toll of having to tell my (then) best friend I didn’t want to marry him; that I felt that God was calling me to discern this vocation. 

As I’ve written in the past, the CV discernment wasn’t spontaneous. It had started around 2010 but things made me fight it, including pressure from those I loved to find someone. In early 2019 — months before I committed to this discernment — I had that moment where the words “let Him court you” made me go “wait… what?” 

This was the path I was on when I took that small detour in the summer into autumn of 2019 when the fella and I were seriously talking about a possible future together. That itself had built up over time. But, even then, it didn’t feel right. A few weeks into our first conversation about marriage, I couldn’t shake the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that it wasn’t right. I didn’t like the idea that Christ wouldn’t have my heart in its entirety; that He would have to share it with someone as the main man in my life. So, after weeks of prayer and the 54-day Rosary novena bringing peace about my final decision within the first 9 days of it, I knew what I had to do. 

After weeks of trying to muster up the courage and knowing that there was no way to avoid hurting him, I let him know what was happening. We didn’t stay in touch much longer after that. We attempted to be friends again but it was too hard due to feelings and our history. I’m happy to say that we (or, at the very least, I) got closure after some very honest emails where things were laid out and apologies were made. It was that closure that helped cut the final ties that kept my heart from fully opening to Christ as a future Spouse. 

And that’s not been the only thing. In the last two years I’ve also had fellas from my past unexpectedly pop up in my life. One of them, in particular, has stuck around but it’s been different. While the remembrance of old feelings hit hard, it was very brief as I quickly realized that I looked at him like I would a son. Yes, I know that sounds weird but he became like a spiritual son to me. I prayed for him and his vocation. I had such a wonderful peace about it… and it was the moment that solidified spiritual motherhood to me. 

That overflowing amount of love I have in my heart can be poured out for others through my vocation as a consecrated virgin living in the world; a love that comes from Jesus Himself and has thawed my stone cold heart. Yes, I still get annoyed by and upset with people but I can look at them more clearly as children of God and even see them with eyes of a spiritual mother. I really can’t explain it better than that. At least, not at the moment. 

These past couple of days I’ve been reflecting how God has changed my life and heart. Even beyond the loss of my eyesight and everything else I endured last year, it’s been an incredible journey. This entire year has been like a new chapter in my life. 

I’ve been the healthiest I’ve been in my adult life (visual impairment and secondary adrenal insufficiency excluded). And I’m going to end this year with a surgery that I’ve been waiting years to have done. 

I finally made my Final Act of Oblation as a Benedictine oblate at Clear Creek Abbey. I began the novitiate on June 30, 2019 with the Monks of Norcia but, as my oblate namesake, St. Therese, would probably say, God replanted this little flower in fertile soil that make her grow and thrive. 

And, most importantly, God has shown me who I am, what I’m capable of, what can derail me, and what I have to offer the Church. I keep saying it but it’s true — God has been working on my heart and I’ve just noticed the major changes in the last couple of months. As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve found myself again; someone I hadn’t seen in at least 2-3 years, if not longer. And I feel like all of this is preparing me for my vocation. 

I want to very cautious about saying that I’m going to be consecrated because I don’t have the final say. I’m still waiting for that appointment and now that Archbishop Gomez’s term as USCCB president is about to end, i hope I’ll be able to meet with him. Still, I cannot imagine my life any other way. I can’t see myself as a bride of anyone but Christ. I cannot see myself as a mother of my own flesh and blood but I can see myself as a spiritual mother to all whom my Beloved shed His precious blood for. 

To be honest, I don’t think I’m ready to become a CV… but I also think that I’ll never truly feel ready… and that’s a good thing. I hope I never feel ready. I hope I’ll grow as His bride and a spiritual mother just like the beautiful women who are wives and mothers raising future saints and leading their husbands to Heaven. I hope my love for Christ continues to grow as the years pass. 

I’m so grateful for the past two years. I don’t know when I’ll know when Abp. Gómez will let me know his decision about my vocation but, whether I will be consecrated or ultimately be called to another vocation, I would not do anything differently. I’m so grateful for all the tears, the laughter, the doubts, the peace, and everything I’ve experienced. 

Anyway, this is just a quick-ish reflection on the last two years. I’ve hit the unofficial minimum amount of time we’re asked to take to discern this vocation so… let’s see what God has in store for me in the near future. 

I hope y’all are having a lovely start of Advent. 

As always, than

Friday, December 3, 2021

Hitting a Wall & Setting Boundaries


Yesterday was the first time I’ve truly felt like myself in a really, really long time. I found myself smiling & simultaneously crying at something beautiful. I heard the words “this is who you are; who you’ve always been. You just lost yourself for a little while… & this is why…” from someone who knows me very well. I felt at peace. I didn’t have my mind on a boatload of things. I was focused & clear-minded. 

After my oral surgery last week, I tried to spend as much time as I could resting. Recent bouts of insomnia weren’t helping the recovery process so I decided to limit avoidable stress triggers, which came down to limiting (& even completely eliminating) things such as social media & group chats. 

I should preface this by saying that I love my friends. I’m so grateful to them for all they’ve done for me. But, as much as I love them, my introverted & highly sensitive battery was not only depleted but had been running on empty for weeks. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough time for myself & mental health which was affecting my physical health. All of that was contributing to my recent health relapse that I’m just now (finally!) recovering from. 

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the constant bombardments of notifications of “new this!” & “new that!” for months now. When I realized that the best recovery period I had was when my eyesight was so bad that I couldn’t use my phone, I knew I had to place better boundaries about my social media & messaging usage. 

I started by trying not to feel bad or guilty for not replying to messages. I hate not responding but I’d reached my breaking point. I felt like crying whenever I saw the little red dots alerting me of new messages. I physically felt my blood pressure spike up & my face flush when I saw new messages despite muting the notifications. That’s when I knew I had to do the hard thing and ask friends to not include me in group chats any longer. Just thinking that an hour break could mean over 50 new messages would give me major anxiety. I knew some people wouldn’t like it & would even get angry at me for asking to be excluded & for leaving group chats but I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to be selfish & do what was best for me. 

It was hard to accept that social media had both created the biggest stress trigger & also numbed me, emotionally. The environment on these platforms are so volatile that I had unknowingly created a emotional shield to protect my naturally sensitive nature from it. I didn’t realize that the emotional numbness had seeped into my life “offline” until I realized how differently I felt & acted while taking a stricter break from the platforms & messaging. 

After taking several days off & even deleting the Instagram app (IG is my social media kryptonite & the only social media app I use), I busied myself with things I once loved & enjoyed that didn’t involve social media. Or, really, much of the internet (e.g. browsing). The changes in me were noticeable. My relationships in person got better. My stress levels drastically decreased. While insomnia is still a pain in my tush, I was sleeping better & for longer periods of time. 

Spending time with old friends (& not using social media or messaging to do so)… taking long walks outside… doing little things to take care of my physical & emotional health — all of these things also contributed to my recent recovery journey. 

God knows that I needed all of this. He has been preparing my heart & mind for it for months. I’m equal parts emotional & logical & He knew I was going to need the groundwork that was laid down starting with my trip to Clear Creek Abbey this past August. During that trip I was forced to disconnect, embrace more silence, & see how much better a simpler way of life was for me. I saw how much healthier & happier I was with friends (talking to them in person versus using technology to do it), being more physically active, & being surrounded by things that kept God at the forefront of my mind. 

I know it’s easier for friends to keep in touch using social media (the most popular means of communication for most) & texting (2nd most popular), but I’m going to slow things for myself. 

To my friends reading this: I love you all so much but I need the break. Voice messages are preferred to text messages & emails are preferred to both. If it’s something urgent or don’t have the time to email me, please feel free to text me. But please be aware that I won’t reply so quickly. I owe people messages that are now a week old because I need to go slowly. I need to do this for my health. And for those of you who didn’t know: I pulled a Matt Fradd & changed my phone number & basically didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t in frequent communication with several weeks ago. I needed that fresh start when I switched mobile providers.

Where does this all leave me? Well, I want to blog more since I’ll be using social media even less than before. I plan on using social media & texting only when I need to. There is a chance a landline will be added at some point for urgent calls since I’m at home all day, every day. I plan on making other little adjustments that I hope to share as I implement them & update on my successes & failures with them. And I plan to start one of the (formerly annual) clean-a-thons that will also hopefully help me in other big changes that are coming up. (Stay tuned for more in a future post.)

For now, I’m going to take the rest of the day to rest & relax. Neighbors have been noisier than usual & I try to take the hours in which the kids are at school to nap as much as I can. Later today I’ll also spend a little more time with old friends before I have to say “goodbye” to them for a couple of months.

I guess I’m getting my wish to have a more “stripped down” Advent season, just in ways I wasn’t anticipating. 

Okay, I think it’s time for that nap. 

I hope you are all doing well. 

As always, thanks for reading & God bless! 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Advent Plans


I absolutely love Advent & Christmastide! Yes, Lent & Easter are wonderful but I’ve always been partial to these two liturgical seasons more than the rest. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved new beginnings. My favorite secular holiday was always New Years’ Day. My favorite season is Springtime… & Advent is knowing as the liturgical springtime as it’s the beginning of the liturgical year. 

Or maybe it’s because I’ve always loved the warm & cozy feelings associated with this time of year. The warmth of the kitchen (my favorite room in the house), the warmth of a delicious cup of tea while reading a good book, the warm embraces of loved ones at get-togethers (in small numbers, this introvert thanks you very much), etc. 

I usually have a “go big or go home” mentality but this year I’m doing things differently. Instead of doing “all the Catholic things” I’ve decided to do almost none of it. At least not the big things. There will be no Advent wreath this year. There will be no Advent candles. The Nativity (minus baby Jesus) won’t be put out until Christmas Eve. 

Why? Because I want a stripped down Advent — just me & my future bridegroom.

For weeks I’ve had it on my heart & mind to focus on getting to know & love Jesus deeper. I feel like my love & understanding is still a bit superficial; like there is a lot more that I have to learn. The words “spend time with your bridegroom” keeps repeating on loop for most of the day. What better time to really dive deeper than Advent? 

Just like you spend time with someone to get to know them enough to know whether you want to marry them or not, I feel like I need to do the same. Not that I doubt my vocation; I’ve never felt more at peace & more like myself than when I think about being a CV for life. I simply feel like there’s a lot more that I need to discover so that when that beautiful day of consecration comes & I become His bride, my heart will overflow with more love & joy than I thought possible. 

This Advent, these two books will be my companions. I’ll continue the Divine Intimacy book through the end of the liturgical year as well. I look forward to using them to help me on this journey to get to know my future bridegroom better. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Oblation and Consecration Renewal Day

 Happy feast of Christ the King! 

Today I renewed my Benedictine oblate promises, my Marian consecration, & my consecration to Divine Mercy. It’s a tradition at Clear Creek Abbey (& many other Benedictine monasteries) that oblates renew their promises today, on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since I knew the date, I chose to renew my other consecrations on this day as well. 

It was a beautiful 33 days leading up to today. I purposely took the week off from social media in order to prepare for it. While I didn’t get to do things as I had planned, it was still a fruitful time that I needed. I feel like it also put me in the right headspace for the beginning of Advent in just a week. Of course, being somewhat of a liturgical calendar geek, I have plans for my favorite liturgical seasons (Advent & Christmastide) but I’ll get to that later. For now…

Peace! In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

I renew my oblation & offer myself to Almighty God through the Blessed Virgin Mary & our Holy Father Benedict, as an Oblate of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Monastery & promise again to dedicate myself to the service of God & Humanity

according to the Rule of Saint Benedict

in so far as my state in life permits.

(Photo of a consecration bracelet I was given, the Rosary I got at Clear Creek on the eve of my final promises this past August, & my Christmas gift (a Benedictine crucifix) I also got from Clear Creek in 2018 before I knew I was going to end up making my final promises there.)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What One of My Most Significant Relationships Made Me Realize


At this point I think I can safely assume that everyone knows that I love to write. I mean, it’s even in my blog title, which I have not changed since its inception in December 2007. However, no one knows that I didn’t even realize I liked writing until my childhood best friend answered one important question: “why do you always give me notebooks and pens for my birthday?”

I haven’t talked about him in my blog before but, yes, my best friend growing up was a fella. We grew up together, living in the same apartment complex from the time I was 5 until about the age of 19. He was a year older and we never went to the same schools but we hung out after school and on weekends. 

He tried to teach me how to skateboard which was hilarious because I was so bad at it. I don’t know if I can still do an Ollie but, if I can, he taught me how. I don’t remember what I tried to teach him (it was probably school-related) but I remember we had a good balance. He was strong where I was weak and vice versa. We never fought and if we disagreed, it was resolved pretty quickly. 

We brought out the best in each other. I was the academic nerd and he was allergic to school. He was calm in all situations while I was a feisty firecracker. If you guys think I’m introverted, he was even more so. He was very observant… which is why I think he started giving me notebooks as gifts. 

I don’t remember which birthday it was but it became an annual tradition. Every year I would get at least one notebook and some pens from him. That tradition continued until my 18th birthday. That year he added two significant gifts: an image of Christ knocking on a closed door and the answer to the question I had always wondered: why all the notebooks?

“Because you’re always writing. Always.” 

That was his simple reply. I hadn’t even thought about it but he was right. Every afternoon, we would get together at one of the tables next to the pool and we’d do homework. Or he would draw and I would write. It’s always been second nature to me; to write what I’m thinking or feeling. I was also writing down the crazy ideas that would pop into my mind. I wrote my first (completed) screenplay when I was only 15-16 years old. I wrote many parody songs before then. I entered my first writing contest when I was 10 years old and came in second place, something I was very proud of because I’d done it on my own. When I say I was a real-life Anne Shirley (protagonist of the Anne of Green Gables series) I mean it. 

From that point on, I was very aware of how much writing was a part of who I was (and still am). And I owe that to him. 

Sadly, we lost touch shortly before I turned 19 because that’s when he and his family moved away. A lot of people assumed we would end up together because of how much time we spent together and how well we got along… and that was ultimately what ended our friendship. 

Long story short, a parent (neither of mine) was very keen on having us get married very young and it was suggested that I be forced (yes, forced) into the marriage. I was 18 and he was 19 at the time. We never dated and I think I was in a relationship with someone else at the time. He and his family moved away shortly after that incident and we lost touch. The last time I talked to him was when I was about 20 years old, when he called to see how I was doing. I didn’t find out about what happened until after my father’s death many years later.

I don’t know what became of him. I recently found out that he had gotten bone cancer a few years ago but I don’t know if he passed from it or not. I think it was pretty advanced but don’t know the details or outcome. I pray for him regardless of whether he beat cancer or not. I have such lovely memories of him and our shared childhood adventures and that’s something I thank God for. 

This friend not only opened my eyes to my love for writing but, as I said, his gift on my first year of official adulthood became somewhat prophetic. I’ve spent more years of my adulthood as a writer than any other career. I also returned to the Church which wasn’t even on my radar at 18. He wasn’t Catholic but we’ve always had a lot of images and statues of saints at home so I think that inspired him to give me the image of Christ. 

Why am I bringing him up? Because I’ve been reflecting a lot on my friendships and past relationships lately. Never have I been more aware of how we truly are the company that we keep. I’ve noticed that certain friendships bring out the absolute best in me… while others have the opposite effect. Whatever my vocation is, community (my “tribe”) is so important. I want to make sure that I’m not only surrounded by people who will inspire and challenge me to become the best version of myself but that I can do the same for others. I’ve come to realize that those in my inner circle — those who I trust with my life and even my soul  — are few but that God has truly given me amazing friends. I know they’ll undoubtedly help me reach Heaven one day. They may not realize it now but God will show the fruits of their love one day. 

To all my close friends: thank you for putting up with my shenanigans. Thank you for loving me and not giving up on me, even when I make horrendous mistakes. 

To all my friends: thank you all for your friendships. I value each and every one of you. 

To my former friends: whether we’re no longer friends because we grew apart or because things ended badly, thank you. Thank you for what you taught me and for helping make me who I am now. 

And to R (my childhood best friend): thank you for helping me realize what I loved the most. Thank you for the respect you showed me, even as we tried to navigate through our crazy teen years surrounded by madness. I don’t know where you are now but I will always pray for you. 

Anyway, I think that’s all I can write about on this topic at this time. I know that God is opening up my eyes to my friendships and former relationships for a reason and I cannot wait to see what good will come of it. 

I hope you’re all doing well!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!