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Because so many dear, thoughtful people have taken the time and care to check in on me to make sure I am OK… and also to drop reminders–subtle and not-so-subtle–that it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything here… And because I am so touched and grateful for it all…

I just wanted to let everybody know that I am indeed OK and that I am not unmindful of how long it has been since I posted here.  :)

In fact, I should love very much to flood you with fresh blog posts.  The only problem is that I’ve had trouble thinking of anything worth posting about (with the exception of the upcoming retreat with my Lay Dominican community, of course).  I’ve had considerable writer’s block with regard to the blog.  However, I have not been letting my creativity wither away.  In fact, I have been quite busy with various off-line pursuits: writing fiction, doing some drawing and coloring, reading.

I wish I could say that my spiritual life is going swimmingly… but it’s not.  It hasn’t been for quite some time.  I’ve experienced a long arid spell.  Loving God has been mostly cold-steel sheer will–it’s been a while since my love has been the unquenchable, all-consuming fire that it is often capable of being.  Which is not to say that I love Him any less.  Just that it is a different sort of love.  Love would be pretty boring if there weren’t some variety to it, right?  I often experience God’s love of me in a similar way–sometimes it’s all warmth and tenderness and beauty, almost a kind of romance, and then sometimes it’s like being cranked through a wringer or tossed off a cliff, tough as nails (yes, Lord Holy Spirit, I’m talking about You!), and then sometimes it is reserved, still, silent, a desert wind, an encompassing darkness–but never empty or indifferent.

So, it’s not going swimmingly, no.  But it is all right.  It is going.  It is bringing me somewhere.  Teaching me something.  It always does.  In hindsight, I always look back and can’t believe I didn’t realize how very close God was to me, and how much He was saying to me and doing for me.

Health-wise, I can’t complain.  The worst I’ve had to deal with is bursitis in my foot.  The depression is under control.

At least, the physiological aspects of depression are under control.  I still have lots of emotional and psychological stuff to work through.  Mainly grief and sorrow.  I know that the physical elements are under control because I have once again turned my mind to the elements that are beyond the reach of medical science.  They are quite huge and intimidating–even frightening.  But I can stand them now and begin my passage through them.  And that is quite a relief, actually.  I want, and need, to set out on that path.

We are in the middle of a long, extremely hot, drought-ridden summer here in Texas.  We’ve had about 27 consecutive days with high temperatures above 100° F (38° C).  It’s gone on so long that I dare say (while shuddering) that I am almost used to it!  But I still avoid being outdoors as much as possible.  Summer has always been my least-favorite season.  But in general, as I have matured, I have come to appreciate some things about summer.  As long as there are luminous, long-lingering evenings, glowing fireflies and singing cicadas, and a bottle of Sho Chiku Bai chilling in my refrigerator, I find that I can face summer with a rather peaceful and poetic outlook.  I think it is this outlook that has so inspired my artistic endeavors of late.

So this is where I am.  Typing words about love and summer and God and life.  Admiring the silhouettes of trees against a powder-blue sky sketched over with faint apricot-colored mares’ tails.  Holding a cold sake cup delicately in my fingers.  And thinking about you, whoever and wherever you are, very thankful that you have paused to read these words.

God bless you.

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My friend Annette, who writes the blog Learning to Listen, recently shared a very moving and inspiring post that includes a “Depression Manifesto.”  It has inspired me to start thinking about my own life as someone who suffers the same “family curse.”

Yes, I suffer depression and anxiety.  Whenever I’ve mentioned health problems in my writing, I’ve almost always meant those, although I’ve tended not to name them.  Well, I’m naming them now.  Depression.  Anxiety–particularly social anxiety.  Sometimes a strain of obsessive-compulsive disorder that usually manifests in over-scrupulosity–to which I have referred before.

I also get painfully fixated on things in my past that I regret.  I play them and re-play them in my mind, over and over and over, to the point where I’m just about driven to despair, desperately wishing I could somehow go back and fix them, do things differently, but knowing full well that it’s impossible.  Several days ago, I was in such an agony.

But then I thought back to Annette’s post… I remembered that I was not the only one who experienced such dark moments… remembered that I am not insane…. remembered that all is not lost.

I also turned to God and asked Him what I should do.  I asked my dad too–because he has always known what to do.

And what came to me was something extremely simple:  Just go forth and live each day in such a way as will make God smile.  The past can’t be undone, but the future is still brimming over with opportunities and possibilities.  The future rushes in to every single moment, and every single moment you can choose to do something good, something loving, something beautiful… even if it can’t necessarily be seen or heard or felt by your fellow man; sometimes the greatest deeds are secret, known only to God Himself–and that is enough!  When you make God smile, you can be sure that you are having some kind of wonderful effect on something or somebody somewhere.  Just live for God and His smile!  Even if you don’t feel like smiling yourself.

I know maybe it’s a little silly, maybe even a little conceited, to think of myself making God smile.  But it gives me a goal, a prize, a purpose.  Something to keep my eyes trained on.  Something to draw me out of myself even if I feel very isolated in this world.  It dispels darkness and despair.  It fills my heart with love and tenderness, eagerness and energy.  I love Him, and don’t we always strive to bring our loved ones joy?

Anyway, I have decided that that is how I want to live my life in every little moment.

I’ve been in a state of languor this Lent.  Partly because of circumstances beyond my control, and partly because of my own all-too-frequent indolence.  But tonight, I have remembered how I once summed up Catholicism: “There is always a new beginning.”  I wrote that in the epilogue of my conversion story.

That inspired me to re-read my conversion story–something I haven’t done in many months, or maybe years.  And I can truly say that it has given me a shot in the arm!

Mentally revisiting all those events and time periods… looking back over all that I’ve been through… remembering what a hard-fought battle it was… recalling junctures where things could have gone terribly wrong…

All of this has brought me back to my senses, back to myself.  It has rekindled my fires and restored my sense of purpose.  It has raised my eyes back up to my goal–nothing less than God Himself, for eternity, in Heaven.

That’s all I really want.  And there’s no surer way to attain to that goal than to just keep on being what I am–a practicing Catholic.

So.  Here I go again!

A blessed Lent to you all.

A belated happy new year to everybody, and many apologies for the long lack of posting.  And above all, many thanks to all of you who have kept me in your thoughts and prayers.  Thanks for the messages of support and encouragement!  Thanks for your patience!

As you might have guessed, the last couple of months have been rather difficult for me.

My first Christmas without my dad was bittersweet… but more sweet than bitter.  I spent Christmas in New Orleans with my mom and sister and brother-in-law.  We stayed in a really luxurious hotel.  I attended Mass at the glorious Immaculate Conception Church (aka the Jesuit Church).  The weather was unusually frigid, but it was still beautiful, and nothing that a nice hot dish of crawfish étouffée couldn’t cure!  Being with my family was the best thing, of course.  They are the greatest gift and greatest blessing of all.

I am having some health issues.  Nothing serious, thank God, but just… something of a nuisance, and a hindrance to living life to the fullest.  It is due to these that I have found it so very difficult to get back to writing.  But I think it is getting better.  And I really do want to start posting here frequently again!  I miss blogging.  I miss you all.

So, now, I’m just digging in my heels and determining to start afresh!  It’s a new year, so full of possibilities.  I hope it is the best and brightest year yet, for myself and for you!

For the last week or so, I’ve been seeing references to Reformation Day, which is apparently today.  I’m not sure exactly what there is to celebrate about the Reformation, but whatever.

Needless to say, I will be celebrating by going to Confession, praying to Saints, seeking indulgences for the poor souls in Purgatory, and drinking to the Holy Father’s good health and long life.

In short, it’s going to be a pretty typical Saturday.

Except that I turn 33 tomorrow!  :D

Happy All Hallows Eve!

It’s been a beautiful autumn day, sunny and bright, but very cool!  The leaf-turning (such as it is in these parts) has begun.  The colors are rather sparse, but when you do see them, they are quite lovely!  We have some maples, which are always glorious!

I am feeling much refreshed and recharged.  I think my medication is working nicely; I have greater energy and emotional stability, I think.  Thank God.

Prayer has been coming more easily as well.  I went to church this evening after work to pray the Rosary.  It is always a sublimely beautiful and peaceful place.  A holy place.  Today, though, it was even more so.  Perhaps it was the low, autumn evening light… what a sweet and enchanting atmosphere, so redolent of this season.  I looked at the Crucifix.  It is life-size and dominates the entire space.  And the Lord’s body looked so alive.  Less like carved and painted wood, and more like living flesh.  As I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries, I felt like I was there on that first Good Friday.  It made me tremble.  I felt such a surge of love and gratitude.  It’s all too easy to look there and see just a decoration.  This evening was much different.  It was profound.

I’ve also felt a surge of creativity.  I’m trying to drag myself away from Aubrey & Maturin (I’m almost through the 3rd book now!) so that I can work on my own writing.  Of course, that includes the blog, for all love!  :)

After a few really rough weeks, things are finally looking up.  Thanks for your prayers and support.  They surely came through for me!

I took today off work to re-charge and take care of some personal business.  It’s already borne some good fruit.  I was able to go to Confession this morning and receive the Sacrament’s superabundant graces.  And I think I will finally get my long-awaited medication today.  Thank God on both counts.

Now I need to catch up on some class-related work and correspondence… and the ever-present house chores!

I could use prayers for assorted personal intentions of mine.

I’m trudging through some annoying, disheartening, worrying things right now.

Thanks!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~ Albert Camus

My favorite season has begun!  A fresh, bright, beautiful season between the extremes of summer and winter.  It is like a second Spring to me.  It makes me feel rejuvenated… chipper… frisky, even!

Never mind that I’ll turn a year older on All Saints Day, which will be here in no time.  Nothing puts a damper on Autumn for me!

I’ve got my window open, and I think I might actually need my blanket tonight!

:D

My visit to the doctor went all right on Tuesday; many thanks to all who have kept me in their thoughts and prayers.  Everything was normal in the physical exam, but the blood work may reveal hidden things.  They are checking for anemia and thyroid abnormalities that may be causing or contributing to fatigue and other depression-like symptoms.  These have been my main concerns.

I bravely faced 4 needles while there–and I do mean bravely, because needles scare the living daylights out of me!  Including a tetanus vaccine which has left my arm sore for nearly 3 days and made it very hard for me to sleep–because naturally, I have the habit of wanting to sleep on that arm!  I’ve been like walking death for the last couple of days.  But it’s over now.

Now, if the insurance company will just let me get my one prescription filled… that’s another story.  You wouldn’t think there would be a story.  Given how much I’ve paid them, you wouldn’t think they would make it a hassle to get one prescription filled.  SIGH.

I’m just glad that I’m getting a handle on my physical condition.  Honestly, I think I’ve blamed all of my problems on grief for too long, while ignoring the possibility of medical conditions–treatable conditions.  Not that I’m “over” the grief, but I fear it may have become a convenient scapegoat in some cases.  I never imagined that could happen.

The important thing is that I’m making an effort to make things better.  I just can’t stand everything being in shambles any more!  Hopefully, positive things will start happening in the near future.

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St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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