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.
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!