Saturday, January 20, 2018
These past two weeks have been emotionally and physically draining but also very promising. My new doctor is quite certain that my chronic fatigue is a result of poor nutrition (which began with my old doctor restricting what I could eat), lack of exercise (my old doctors restricted that, too), and stress. Actually, the biggest factor seems to be stress. Two new doctors seem to both believe it's because I've been on an emotionally, mentally, and physically stressful cycle for several months (years, really) that have made my body keep up this constant "fight or flight" adrenaline rush that has caused me a lot of problems across the board.
The plans, for now, are to eat well (well, better quality foods when I can afford it), exercise more, and to reduce stress by eliminating or learning to cope with my biggest stressors. School is done so that is one massive stressful thing out of my life. Work, which is currently consisting of writing for Epic Pew, isn't causing any stress. However, I did have to tackle a big, life-long issue that was my biggest source of stress for several years.
Without going into too much detail, I was on a steady "diet" constant pressure and emotional manipulation for years. I got the courage to speak to the person who was causing it two weeks ago. They said that they didn't realize what they were doing (and I'm choosing to believe that based on what a number of psychologists and therapists have said about this person) and promised to make an effort to do their best to stop. It was an emotionally-charged two-hour conversation in which I got out all my grievances and all the hurt this person has caused throughout most of my life. While this person still occasionally slips (old habits die hard), they are making a conscious effort to make sure they're no longer contributing to what has made me sick for so long. I have already seen an improvement in both my relationship with this person as well as my chronic fatigue which has lessened a bit over the past week.
This big breakthrough came after doing both the 54-day Rosary novena (late last year) and the Immaculate Heart of Mary novena at the beginning of this year. I had this particular intention for both novenas because God showed me that this was one of the biggest things I needed to work on in order to get healthier on all levels. I mean, I didn't just do it for my benefit. Nonetheless, it's an incredible result from the novenas, one that I will forever be grateful to God for! Now that this is no longer a big issue, the next one to tackle is getting me physically and spiritually healthier in order to make the other personal goals more attainable.
I've been doing this "screens off" experiment for over a week now and it's the best decision I have made this year (so far). I turn off most screens (except Kindle) at 8 p.m. and they don't get turned on again until I'm ready to start the day. I set my alarm for 7:30 p.m. to give myself a half-hour warning to finish up whatever needs to be done before my laptop, iPod touch, and smartphone are shut off for the day. I put on orange-tinted goggles that cut the blue light that suppresses melatonin production until I'm ready to go to sleep. I turn on my Kindle and I read fiction books (fiction is the only genre which doesn't keep me up) until I'm ready to fall asleep... if I don't fall asleep before I can shut the Kindle off. Except for one day on which I had a terrible stomach ache, I've successfully managed to get to bed early. I've been waking up more refreshed, my energy lasts a bit longer, and my chronic fatigue symptoms have lessened. Sure, I still get very tired because CF is unforgiving some days, but the exhaustion is slightly more bearable these days.
As for what's going on in my spiritual life, a lot and not so much. I was lucky to get to pray in front of the tabernacle earlier this week... and it seemed to trigger something because it seems that I have been spiritually attacked every day since. I'm doing two new novenas at the moment -- one to St. Anne and another to St. Francis de Sales -- which seem to also be triggering some spiritual attacks... which means I'm on the right track when it comes to at least one of the novena intentions. I've yet to make it to Mass due to all my physical pains and weakness (which I've been told I'm excused from because I sometimes can't physically get out of bed without a little help) but I've kept up with the daily Mass readings, the Rosary, the Little Office, and the novenas. If my current physical pains and aches and fatigue will make it hard to attend Mass this weekend, I can always watch on EWTN and offer it up for whoever needs the prayers. As a highly respected priest told me, I can always try during the week if I can't make it on a weekend... the point is to try whenever I can.
That's pretty much what's going on with me -- a lot and yet not a whole lot. I'm taking things one day at a time to keep my stress levels down... and to not put more physical pressure on my body. My mom got me this really lovely jigsaw puzzle of a cottage next to a river in a forest which is my ideal place for a retreat or a vacation to help me escape from mental stress. I've cut back on my social media use, which is being helped by my "screens off" experiment. I've been spending more time in silence and learning to take better care of myself.
Basically, I'm allowing myself to take a break from everything so that I can recuperate. It's often hard because being inactive and not being on the constant "go go go" is a foreign concept to me but that's what got me here in the first place so I need to do this. I won't allow anyone to shame me into "being lazy" (as some people call it) because this seems to be what is best for me... and something that seems to be in God's plans for me. I've abandoned myself to doing His will, remember? I won't fight this.
Anyway, I'm having a bad chronic fatigue flare-up day (lots of aches and pain) so I'm going to end this blog here and try to stay relaxed in bed to see if that helps.
I hope y'all have a lovely weekend!
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D
Friday, January 12, 2018
EpicPew's newest contributing writer: me! ;)
Thanks to my friend, Theresa, I'm currently on a trial basis as a contributing writer for EpicPew. It's a website I'd subscribed to (for daily updates via email) while I was in school because I liked the content that they post. When Theresa let me know they were looking for writers, I didn't hesitate to say I was interested in applying. Long story short, it led to my first assignment on pro-life marches coming up this weekend and next.
The lovely thing about this whole thing is that it happened when I finally let go and let God take over. It happened the day I found out I wasn't going to continue the SLP program at Utah State. I had resigned myself to do whatever God wanted me to do. I didn't know how I was going to begin to repay my student loans. I didn't know what work I could possibly do with my chronic fatigue (which has been a nightmare since around Christmas). All I knew was that I fully trusted God to lead me down whatever path He wanted me to take. If I couldn't find anything because I needed to rest, I would rest. If I could find something I could do (and, hopefully, enjoy), I would welcome it. Immediately, this happened and, well, I couldn't be happier!
The interesting thing is that, last week, when I was contacted by the folks at Utah State that they wanted to help me continue down the SLP path by trying to help me get financial aid to finish the last two classes I "needed" (which I don't actually need) was also the day I got my first article greenlight. Cue the "fork in the middle of the road" metaphor. lol. I felt a peace when it came to writing for EpicPew. I feel a tightness in my chest and a foreboding feeling when I think about the SLP path. It was a no-brainer; I was going to stick to writing and not return to Utah State.
Ever since I decided to give an honest effort to make it as a writer (which isn't easy!), I've felt an enormous peace settle in my heart and in my very being. I gave a half-hearted try when I had finished my undergrad degree in 2012 because I felt called to it... but the pressure to do something that had a more steady income made me abandoned that dream. I wish I hadn't because all it did was get me $43k in student loan debt (I only had $2,000 student loan debt after I finished my first B.A.) and made my health take a horrendous hit (over the course of 3.5 years) that I hope to recuperate from this year.
So, what's my takeaway from this long (and, literally, costly) mistake? That one shouldn't ignore what one feels called to out of fear (in my case, financial stability) because God always finds a way to provide. Even before I had finished my first degree, I'd felt like God was slowly tugging me into a career as a writer. When Patrick Madrid gave me my first big writing break in 2010 (that led to other freelance writing gigs; some secular, some Catholic), I didn't even have writing on my radar as a possible career path. I loved writing but I didn't consider doing it for the Catholic world until it happened. Again, financial difficulties, as well as dry spells that every writer experiences, led me to abandon it when I really should've just abandoned myself to His Divine Providence. I mean, I eventually did... years later. lol. You live and learn, folks!
I guess I know why St. Francis de Sales kept popping up in my life for most of last year. He's now my vocation patron saint. I have weekly articles coming up on EpicPew. I have the memoir I'm ghostwriting. I'm working on my third novel (which has undergone a change from its original plot). I hope God continues to show me what He wants me to do... and that I continue to have the courage to do it, even if it means that things may get a little difficult (financially) at times.
That's it for now. I'm doing an experiment to try to get my sleeping schedule back on track which involves shutting off all screens (laptop, phone, iPod touch) early so I need to go finish taking care of emails and everything else before my "screens off" time comes up.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend! :D
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
I feel things very deeply. The good, the bad... homegirl is sensitive to it all. lol. Hi, I'm an HSP and an INFP; it's ingrained in me. I know many of my friends were surprised to see me being so steady and not breaking down after my father died but that was because I internalized everything when people were around. I broke down when no one was watching. I tend to do that. I might've presented a strong front, especially when my mother completely broke down at the funeral, but that was because I was being outwardly strong for others. Inwardly? I was a wreck. I then became numb to all feeling for about a year because it was my way of keeping myself from breaking down completely and having others worry about me.
If I see someone hurting, my heart breaks. I will immediately tear up and this instinct to do whatever I can to help alleviate their suffering kicks in. It can be a mother asking for money outside of groceries stores. It can be seeing the destruction following a natural disaster. What hurts me most is when people lose what's most important to them -- their loved ones, their homes, their livelihood.
On the flip side, if I see someone happy, I burst with happiness for them. I cry at weddings with the biggest smile on my face. When one of my friends expresses their joy over something, I feel it too. Engagements, marriages, babies, job promotions, accomplishments, if you are happy, my heart is full and it feels as if these things were happening to me.
I've always had people trying to stop me from (by making me feel ashamed of) being emotionally expressive. Up to a point, I can see why. Some people do try to take advantage of those who feel strongly by means of emotional manipulation. I've been a victim of this more times than I care to admit. I am getting better at distinguishing when someone is using emotional manipulation. Of course, when I realize this, I become angry because it's a terrible thing to do. I don't understand why people do it.
And that brings us to the emotion of anger and the topic of this post. I feel this emotion deeply as well. Injustice makes me angry. Lies and manipulation make me angry. Abuse of any kind makes me angry. If I see someone being bullied, attacked, or anything of the sort, I get very upset. I used to confess this (often) because I used to think that getting angry was a sin. It became a source of scrupulosity for me. It wasn't until someone explained that feeling angry is natural and not a sin but that acting upon that emotion can become sinful that I stopped being so scrupulous. It's gotten better and I don't confess it unless something uncharitable escapes my lips or I act upon my anger (e.g. icy glares) but I still don't like how angry I can get sometimes. It's not a nice emotion. I don't like things that aren't nice. Sue me.
I have some consolations about this terrible anger I feel sometimes. Jesus got angry and cleansed the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). (side note: if you've ever wondered why I say "flippin'" when I'm upset about something, it's from this -- from Jesus flipping some tables in righteous anger). St. Jerome, who felt anger ardently, is the patron saint against anger for a reason yet he did great things for the Church. St. Teresa of Avila, who was also known to suffer from fits of anger, helped co-found the Discalced Carmelites (along with St. John of the Cross) because she had had enough of seeing the corruption within the Carmelite order. Through these (and many more examples), I've come to realize that I can use this particular negative emotion for good.
I believe that if we feel things deeply and don't get carried away by the emotions we can do a lot of good. The anger can be channeled to do something positive. The same with the sadness and (more easily) the joy. If we can keep this in mind, why are we still shamed into repressing them? A big reason why I developed anxiety in my mid-teens was because I bottled up most of my emotions. Any of you wondering why I haven't had regular panic attacks like I used to? It's because I've no longer bottled up my emotions, good or bad.
That's not to say that I've got it down pat. Sometimes, I can explode -- with anger or joy. Let's be honest, as human beings, we all do. I can usually keep things in perspective but when you add outside factors like lack of sleep, hunger, and other things, it's not as easy. However, it's not impossible.
I recently faced a lifelong problem with anger towards a certain family member. I prayed novenas about it and I sought the advice from trusted friends. God allowed me to understand that what this family member was doing to cause the (righteous yet still unpleasant) anger in me was being done unconsciously and that it was a result of some deep emotional scars within this person; none of it had anything to do with me. I exploded (in a quiet, controlled way) yet calmed down enough to sit down and talk to this person. 2 hours (and many tissues) later, we seemed to have sorted through things. I pray that God continues to help us keep our differences and outside influences in mind so that we can continue to repair the relationship but I know it's going to be somewhat of an uphill battle because it was decades of bad habits to undo.
Despite that drama (and I hate drama), I'm thankful to God for allowing me to have those moments where my temper exploded and I was able to look at things as a whole because it comes with the hope of a better relationship with the person. I still have to work on occasionally losing my cool when driving (L.A. drivers are notoriously rude) but I've seen the good God can do through the bad so I'm feeling optimistic about learning how to better control my temper overall.
How about you? Do any of you have a strong temper/temperament that you need to work on? Have you thought about asking God for help in learning to better manage and control that temper? Remember that you can always call of St. Jerome and/or St. Teresa of Avila whenever you're feeling particularly uncharitable in a heat-filled moment. :)
Well, that's it for now. I actually wrote this post days ago but I got sick again (stomach this time; the start of 2018 has not been particularly kind to me), I had work to do (which I will hopefully share soon), and then we had our apartment blessed for the Epiphany so I've been either sleeping, working, or cleaning up. Oh, 2018, you're a pip! lol.
I hope you're all having a lovely start to the week!
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
How was everyone's NYE/NYD celebrations? I hope it was grand for you all and that you started off the secular year on a positive note. Goodness knows many of us needed a good start after the crazy year that was 2017.
Do any of you have any resolutions for this year? Last year I didn't make any resolutions and I'm glad I didn't because God clearly had so many things in store for me that were going to rock me out of my little comfort zone. I realized that I had to let go of the things I no longer saw as important. I was challenged to grow up in more ways than one. I also joyfully surrendered will own will and plans to follow His... though that only came at the end of the year. However, this year I decided to make three resolutions/goals for myself.
Before I get into the resolutions, I wanted to share with year this sort of Holy Spirit mic drop moment when the following words came up during a discussion on fear and following God's will: "What if God allowed you to get sick because it was the only way you could get relief from the demands of people who wish to make you do their will and not His?"
Mind. Blown. I hadn't thought about it that way but it makes sense. I needed to be uprooted out of what I was comfortable and felt safe in (academia and a very financially stable career path) in order to realize that I wasn't doing things for the right reasons... nor was I doing what I felt was right.
I've been open and honest about that on this blog. I was doing SLP more for the financial stability than for the love of it or the good that could come of it. I was good at working with children. I had the patience needed to work with them. I can actually still go forward and get my SLPA license if I wished to. But at what cost? My health has taken several hits from the stress. Is it worth it? Not to me; no matter how pressured I may feel to continue.
My resolutions for this year are complementary to what I realized at the end of last year: I need to let go and let God take full control. When I say "full control" I mean full control. It doesn't mean I'm going to be passive and wait for things to fall into my lap but I am going to pursue what I feel called to do with the gifts God has given me.
My first resolution: get to Mass more often. As an answer to my prayers for the past 2 years, I will have my chosen parish community only a couple of minutes away from my house instead of a long drive/commute in a very populated/traffic-heavy area. I will be able to easily get to and from this church without having to worry about distance. Bonus: I already have shortcuts to get there since I'm in that general area quite often (again, since I live so close). I don't know who was happier about that news, my mother or I. I also don't know what made us happier: the fact that we're going to have easier access to daily Latin Mass or that we won't have to cringe when Mass begins to feel like a concert. (Mass snob over here, y'all).
My second resolution: to volunteer more... when my chronic fatigue isn't physically debilitating me. This one I'm going to have to build up the stamina to do (outside of the house) first since I was basically bed-ridden for several days over the holidays. I even "celebrated" the New Year already in bed, even if our riotous neighbors made it nearly impossible for me to sleep before 2-3 a.m. I already have ideas and places to do said volunteer work so we're good there. Again, I just need to build up to it. Also, I want to give to others. I felt like I was too selfish last year so I want to do what I can for others this year. Perhaps it'll even help me get out of my chronic illness headspace as well. Those thoughts can contribute to the fatigue, believe it or not.
My third resolution: to take better care of myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I've already shared that I have a new doctor (thanks to the intercession of St. Giuseppe Moscati). I'm trying to stay on top of my vitamin intake -- going as far as adding it to my daily to-do list. I need to get my eating and sleeping schedule on track but we're starting to get there in these early days of the year. I'm also already working on lowering my anxiety and stress levels by changing my outlook on life in general and how I react to things that stress and upset me. To make sure I'm on the right path in life (especially in both little v and big V vocations), I've reached out to a priest who I trust for spiritual direction.
What does 2018 have in store for me? I'm not sure. I hope it's somewhat similar to how I celebrated the beginning of the year: talking to a good friend (though online since we're on opposite coasts) about doing God's will, taking care of myself by resting in bed (I was drifting in and out of sleep between 9:35 pm and midnight), and not letting the outside noise (the ball drop, the TV, the superstitions) distract my attention from what was important. I remember getting up and consecrating my year to our Blessed Mother (which partially inspired this tweet about the lovely coincidence of it being her feast day at the same time we had a supermoon/full moon since she's the woman with the moon under her feet). Since I'll be celebrating my 33rd birthday (my "Jesus year") this upcoming May, it seems fitting that I focus more on my faith than the outside noise.
Those are my own goals and resolutions. I think (and hope) I'll be able to accomplish them. They may occasionally be challenging but what that is worthwhile isn't occasionally a little hard to achieve? What are some of your resolutions? How can I help you achieve your own goals and resolutions?
I hope you are all having a lovely start to the year! May your 2018 be one of your best years yet!
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D
Sunday, December 31, 2017
January: I started the year without making resolutions and I'm glad I didn't because it gave me a chance to be open to whatever changes God had in store for me. I revisited the faith of my childhood. It seems interesting that this happened while I was praying the Rosary because most of this year I struggled with my faith in a way that challenged me (in a good way!) and made mature my facing difficult situations that only God's love and mercy -- and my trust in Him -- could've helped me through. I came to terms with the fact that I prefer the Latin Mass even though some people apparently think it's snobbish to do so. Hey, I'm not knocking your preference; I'm only stating mine. ;) Something that I was grateful for -- and also set in motion some big changes in me this year: I admitted to myself that I had forgotten how to forgive they way I used to. Some people may say that I just stopped being a doormat but I say I became someone I didn't like very much and I'm still working on that, 11 months later.
February: I didn't know that what began shortly before Lent this year would be something that I struggled with for the rest of the year: feeling unworthy of being a Catholic and of God's mercy. Yeah, 2017 was quite possibly the hardest year, spiritually, for me and it just got harder as the time went on. Feeling restless in my faith wasn't the greatest feeling in the world but it forced me to tackle things head on. Oh, and I gave up social media (and talking... haha, that part didn't stick) for Lent. The giving up social media? Oh, did it (more on that in a bit).
March: Lent set off what would become a crazy year for me. Holy cow! I left the country for the first time since before my father passed away and I ended up in the E.R. only days later. St. Francis de Sales made the first of several random appearances in my life during this month, dropping some awesome truth bombs along the way. It inspired me but my body broke down so I couldn't do much with that zeal. Somehow, I managed to see the blessings even during that hard time. Oh yeah, and did you know that you can't dance during Lent? Oops, my bad!
April: Another roller coaster month for me. For the first time in my life, I was racially profiled which was not fun. I also came to terms with the fact that I don't really like social media all that much. On a brighter note, I enrolled in the Rosary Confraternity on Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's birthday and received confirmation of my enrollment for Easter. Whoo! should've listened to the signs I received in April regarding school but I didn't. I guess it didn't help that I had no clarity regarding God's will for me. Still, I should've trusted but I didn't.
May: I had zero plans for my life and it didn't feel right... then. Ask me how I feel now and it's a different story but then? Nope. Didn't like it. I should've taken things slower and had more patience but I didn't and it ended up being costly. Well, at least St. Brigid of Kildare reminded me of some of the good traits God has blessed me with. Better than nothing (and something I should've kept in mind that would've helped me months later). There were some good news in May though. I celebrated my 1000th blog post and I got the best health news in several years. Yay for small wins! Oh yeah, and I turned 32 at the end of the month. 'Sup? lol.
June: I struggled to figure out where to draw the line when it comes to self-care. Heck, I'm still learning. This was probably the hardest month, spiritually, for me as I admitted that I nearly left the Church the previous month. I couldn't find my place in the Church with rejections and some not so friendly experiences making it hard for me to not feel kicked while I was already down.
July: I revealed that I had been working on my third novel (the ending of which I just finished three days ago). In this post I said that I felt called to write and between this and St. Francis de Sales, I should've known something was up but it didn't click for me until December. I'm a slow sometimes. This was probably the biggest month for me in terms of what would be clarified at the end of the year, especially when I admitted to myself that I didn't feel called to the SLP path (though I didn't specifically state it at the time) and that I didn't want to make my life all about a career. Oh yes, and I took a dating break that lasted until about two weeks ago. Yes, I'm still single but at least now I'm positive I'm ready to move forward in that area of my life.
August: My dislike of Twitter came to the forefront this month but I didn't do anything about it quite yet. All I knew was that I wasn't too happy with the whole "Catholic Twitter" thing. St. Francis de Sales continued to stalk me at the most random times but I still didn't put two and two together. My health began to decline again, just in time for the start of the school year no less. I should've seen this as another sign but my stubbornness kept me blind. Of course, I didn't tell people I was back at school, though I did drop hints. I'm not quite sure why I didn't want to say anything at the moment but it should've been an obvious red flag.
September: This was the month in which I saw a ton of change and set the tone for the rest of the year. I celebrated my 32nd baptismal anniversary on the feast of St. Anna the Prophetess. I revealed in which way God humbled me... and it turned out to be in more than one way. I shared why I had stopped writing my third novel (at the time) and I even spoiled the novel plot... and, surprise!, talked about the inspiration behind the idea. I also finally decided to tell everyone that I had returned to school... and I should've done it sooner so that perhaps someone could've stopped me. lol.
October: I had emotional breakdowns every two or three weeks during the semester but I kept fighting it. Oh, Emmy... you should've listened to your gut feeling but, no, I kept on going and I explained why I kept going. St. Therese of Lisieux came up during this period of my life and I learned a lot of valuable things from it... and, in hindsight, I should've focused more on the whole "waiting for your vocation" instead of going forward in something that didn't feel right. The end of the month also saw the end of the "nerdwriter" era, deleting my decade-old Twitter account. By the way, yes, I know who ended up taking the username on Twitter. No, it's not me. And, in a big moment for me: I came to terms with my invisible chronic illnesses.
November: I continued to crawl my way out of the academic tunnel even though I'd felt (for months) that I wasn't called to the field. I broke down in tears more in a single semester than I had when I was at my CINO college alma mater (those 2 years). My body and spirit were being broken the further I continued to try to finish the second degree. Still, I found things to be grateful for. Thankfully, St. Giuseppe Moscati started popping up in my life prior to his feast day and that set in motion something that was long overdue. I started to put some of the puzzle pieces together when, during prayer time, I figured out that St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, might have something to do with the vocation God had in mind for me. That's why I had to create a new Twitter account and why I've been active again.
December: My plans to wait, reflect, and slow down during Advent didn't start out too well but it's something I've decided to continue it into the new year because it's another puzzle piece that I've finally put together. St. Giuseppe Moscati interceded in a big way and now my new doctor's plan for me to really take it easy and take care of myself and my stress levels is in place for the next couple of months. In order to do this (and, really, after having no other option), I decided to quit the SLP field. I've felt an amazing peace regarding this decision despite others trying to pressure me into continuing this path. As I wrote two blog posts ago, I'm completely abandoning myself to His Divine Providence and I look forward to seeing the fruit of this in the upcoming year.
And that's it. The end of the year blog post recap. These are not ALL the posts I wrote this year -- officially the least amount of blog posts I've written in the decade that I've been blogging -- but those were some of the highlight.
How am I still standing? How did I not have panic attacks? How did I not have a complete breakdown? God pulled me through one of the hardest years I've ever had and it just comes to show that His love and His mercy are greater than any obstacle that one comes across.
Well, as a friend would say, I persevered and (as I say) I finally listened to God. Everything I went through led me to the breakthroughs that I had this month; the breakthroughs that I will continue to explore this upcoming year.
Thank you all sharing this year (either all of it or some of it) with me and I look forward to sharing the rest of my adventure with you in 2018.
Have a happy New Year, everyone! Stay safe and may God bless you all! :D