Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A face break from face.book

So this Lent I have been staying away from face.book. It was difficult in the beginning and I took advantage of the two solemnities we have had plus checking it on Sundays. It had become a main mode of communication for me so I wanted to make sure I was checking it especially because I wanted to promote the retreat there. One month into it so far has been such an eye opening time for me. I haven't been having mystical experiences in my prayer time or anything like that, I haven't really been praying more but I have been reflecting more. 

JJ asked me last week how it has been going so far and we had a very long conversation about face.book. I came away from the conversation wanting to delete our face.book account so that I can concentrate and be a more effective communicator to the people in my life. I am a really bad communicator. I am actually ok with not communicating with people every day, JJ is the exception he is my inner circle. I have always been a quiet person especially when I was a kid and when I am out of my element. I have grown in being able to engage in small talk, which I loathe, but I will do it. I would rather have deep and meaningful conversations with a small amount of people. 

I don't usually pursue people to hang out, I tried to when I came back from being a missionary but a lot of my friends at the time pulled back. Since then I became much more careful in who I put my effort into with friendships, I had become even more cautious when we started having fertility issues. Face.book gave me an easy way to keep in "contact" with people without having to actually engage with them too much. I started to realize a lot of my conversations were happening on that social media site and I was checking it frequently to make sure I responded soon to keep the conversation going or to read other conversations that were going on. For most people this sounds like a great way to interact with lots of people quickly but when I really thought about it I found it kind of creepy. I was able to look at peoples "lives" that I hadn't talked to in real life for years without having to actually engage them. Doesn't that sound a little stalkerish?! 

Upon greater reflection I wondered why I wanted to know about their lives or why they would want to know about my life. For some people it is a genuine want of connection with people who are currently in your life as well as those who you don't see all the time or are far away. That I can totally get on board with! The other part of having "friends" on face.book that you have no intention of actually making the effort to see in real life is where I have the problem. For me I want to be a more effective  communicator with the people in my life. I don't want to spend my energy on looking at people's lives, I want to be in people's lives. I don't want them to just look at my life either I want them to be a part of my life. Last I counted we had 357 "friends" on face.book, I wonder how many of them actually read this blog or know what is currently going on in our lives besides awesome pictures and quotes we put up on our profile.

Now there are about 4 groups that I am an active part of and they are all either secret or private. I love those groups because one is with Catholic IF gals, another is for practitioners, another one is for my sister practitioners in CA and the other one is the book club I am in. I have missed those groups while not being on face.book but I have realized that I can live without that social media outlet.

This break has given me time to reflect on some misteps I have made on face.book in sharing too much, even in these private groups. I had posted something that Padre had said in a spiritual direction appointment in the Catholic IF group. Well that didn't go so well and it ended up in hurt feelings on my end and I ended up hurting a dear friend in the process. I talked it out with my friend and we hashed it out so everything is fine now but I knew I should not have posted what I did and I knew deep down I just wanted people to acknowledge my hurt and pat me on the back for how well I handled the situation. That is just one mistep!

 Which brings me to my next pondering, why do we feel the need to get attention on social media? I think it is part of our natural inclination toward narcissism. It's not that I don't get enough attention from people in real life, I want more from people I hardly ever see if I see them at all! Which brings me back to wanting to have better communication with those people I actually see on a regular basis or who are far but I am invested in our friendship. I want to be a better friend and let people know that I am invested in them and not just on face.book. This means I have to get off of my lazy communicator couch and actually do something like send a text or email or actually call them. 

Now some of you may see blogging as the same thing as face.book, so why do I not have a problem with blogging? Blogging is so different because when you read someone's blog you become invested in who they are. You don't get invited to see their blog, it is more often the case that you are searching for something they have to say. The blogs I read, I pray for these women and their families. I have also come to care about them and have made some wonderful friendships that I would not have otherwise made. When you comment you are engaging in the person's life and people tend to be more honest on their blog about good and bad stuff that is going on with them. Face.book does not have the same vibe as blogging does, it just doesn't. 

So, will we delete our face.book account after Easter? I don't know I am still discerning it.  I asked JJ what he thought and he doesn't know either, he hardly ever goes on the computer let alone face.book. I thought maybe a good compromise would be to have two face.book days a week so that I don't allow myself to spiral back into checking it so much. I have felt like a more productive and present person being off of face.book and I like that feeling. I guess we'll see what happens after Easter...   

Friday, March 28, 2014

2 Years Ago (Part Three)

This is the last post on my miscarriage series, you can find part one here and part two here. Thank you all so much who have commented, prayed and read these posts. I don't always comment back because I am not sure what to say other than "thank you" but I do read them. Sharing this much in such a public space has been a bit nerve wracking at times but it is so freeing. I really wanted this post to be about how I am doing after the miscarriage two years out. I have not seen another positive pregnancy test nor have we officially moved on to foster care or adoption and we are not currently doing medical treatment. Do I still grieve? Is it possible to move on from a miscarriage? Do I think about what could've been? Do I think about our child? Well the answer to all these questions is a big fat YES!

I still allow myself to be sad when I need to, I don't hide the fact that our IF and miscarriage still hurt sometimes. I am not always thinking about it but it does come up once in awhile. For example we were at a baby shower in Janurary and everything was going fine until they started opening the presents. It came out of no where really because I had gone to another baby shpwer a couple months before and I was fine plus I was excited to go to this baby shower to see our friends that we hadn't seen in awhile. I guess that is the nature of feelings, they can hit you out of no where. JJ saw that I was about to cry so he decided that it was time for us to leave. We walked to our car and as we were on our way home I cried and talked it out with JJ. My saddness had nothing to do with my friend and her baby, I just needed to grieve in that moment when I realized again that I may never get my own baby shower.  I didn't put any limits on myself like needing to stay and be there for my friend so I can show how happy I am for her, she already knows that I am happy for her. I didn't make myself feel guilty for being sad or not staying the entire time. When we put overwhelming expectations on ourselves to be the perfect Christian and to be happy all the time it can put a person in constant inner turmoil for allowing themselves to feel emotions that would be deemed as "negative." It is OK to feel sad and dare I say angry, these are basic human emotions! It upsets me to know that there are Christians out there who would push someone's grief aside just so that they don't have to see it, that is not a Christian action at all.  

It is absolutely possible to move on from a miscarriage. You never forget your child but you can start to live your life again. I loved the scene in the first episode of Downton Abbey this season where Mary says she has spent too long in the land of the dead and needed to choose to be among the living. That was so powerful for me because I was faced with that same choice after the miscarriage. Was I going to allow our IF and miscarriage to have me constantly thinking about our loss and death? Yes and no. One of the things I have come to realize is that we are all going to die at some point. I know not the most fun thing to think about but since it's true, I had to decide what I wanted my life to be like before that happens. I do think about the fact that my ultimate goal is not earthly pleasure here, it's heaven. IF and miscarriage are traumatic things to deal with but it is possible to live your life despite these traumatic events.  

I do think about our dear sweet little one but I don't allow the loss of her to stop me in my tracks anymore. Since death is eminent for us all and heaven is my ultimate goal, then I must do what I can to get there. The thought of someday being in the same place as Cecilia is a huge motivator for me to keep living the best life I can and serve God. I try my best to unite myself to Christ and his sufferings in that moment of grief, sadness or anger. I don't ask Him to take it away I just go through it, mainly in private or with JJ but always in the presence of Christ. I am very private with my emotions most of the time, which is interesting that I have a blog. 

Some things that have greatly helped me are frequent Penance and the Traditional Latin Mass, the High Mass more specifically. I try and go to confession monthly but it's been more like every 6weeks, I notice that resisting temptation is much harder after I have not gone to confession in awhile I notice the difference in myself at around the six week mark if I haven't gone. I feel like I am stinky when I don't go to confession and do a proper examination of conscience. There is a cool app called Mea Culpa that has a very thorough examination of conscience, I use it to reflect and then I write down what I want to confess or try and remember but I dont keep track on the app, that creeps me out a bit. I think the mindfulness that we are sinners in need of God's mercy helps me to remember that I need His grace in me. Remember there are actual graces that you get from the Sacrament of Penance so why not take advantage, I say this to myself as I want to go to Confession this week.

I know that not everyone likes the Latin Mass or has it closely available to them but I urge you to try it at least a few times. If you only try and go once it will be so different and may be confusing that you may get discouraged, that's why I say try it a few time before you decide whether or not it's for you.  The huge difference that I have found in the Latin Mass is the reverence but also the total focus on the holy sacrifice that is taking place at the alter. There are no trappings, gimmicks, entertainments or special mentions of anyone person or family group, it's just Mass. I am not saying the Novus Ordo isn't reverent because we still go to it when we need to and our priests are very reverent. The Novus Ordo leaves more room for the laity which can leave more room to take the focus off of the Eucharist sometimes, again I am not saying this always happens.

The Latin Mass has given me an opportunity to worship God as my introverted self, althought there are many who go to Latin mass that are extroverts, I find that it fits my temperament well. There is no giving each other the "sign of peace" or giving a special mother's/father's day blessing at Latin Mass which really helped me when I was grieving most to just be in Mass and focus on Jesus. If you don't go to Latin Mass you can still pray the Novus Ordo in a deeper way and follow along with the priest in the Magnificat booklet or a missal. The big thing was just to give of myself more fully in the Mass and remember the 4 intentions of Mass; adoration, praise/thanksgiving, penance and impetration/petition. When I really started to give of myself in Mass and unite myself to what was happening on the alter, I started to get healing graces from it.

Knowing my temperament and personality has really helped me to take pressure off of myself to grieve or heal in a certain way. Each person and personality type is different and there is no one size fits all to healing a broken heart. Knowing how I process things is not an excuse for actions but it does explain them as well as my thoughts. I have been able to work on my major weaknesses as a melancholic as well as draw strength from my natural inclination to draw inward. I think the more we know who we are and how we process things helps us to be more proactive in the healing process. The book that I read about temperaments is called The Temperament God Gave You. For the longest time I thought I was melancholic-choleric but I was wrong I am melancholic-phlegmatic. I have choleric tendencies because I believe that my mom is choleric and pushed me to take charge even though my natural inclination is to want to be left alone and not take charge. I also found out I am an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs types. Again, I think its improtant to know about ourselves to know why we have certain reactions to things. A book that helped me to allow myself to feel my emotions and not push them away because of shame or they are seen as negative is a book by Conrad Baars called Born Only Once, its not in print anymore but you can find it on audiobook I think.    

There are times where I know I am wallowing too much so instead of closing myself off I open myself up to God and to the appropriate people who I trust to share these kinds of thoughts and feelings with. I have learned to know my audience as far as sharing with people in person, this is where discernment comes in. You can't share some of the deep thoughts and feelings about miscarriage with everyone, well unless you have a blog ;) but in your everyday life you have to discern who may be more compassionate. 

Sometimes I just need to be alone or with just JJ and have a good cry and feel how much we miss our little one and wish we got to hold her or I need to just feel the pain that infertility brings about. I have to admit I haven't had as many of these crying or deep sadness episodes in awhile, other than the one after the baby shower. I feel stronger than I was before the miscarriage. Now when I face something that is difficult even if its so small like pushing myself harder in my workouts, I think to myself "I have gotten through a miscarriage, countless negative pregnancy tests, two surgeries and many painful periods. I can certainly do this!"  The miscarriage made me face infertility in a deeper way and allow myself to grieve about it all. I still have my little fits and times where I am sad about our situation but for the most part I don't feel like it is suffocating me anymore. I don't feel like I am punched in the gut and can't breath because of infertility or our miscarriage. This is not to give me a bunch of credit but I know it is God's grace and the nature that He created me with to get through the miscarriage. To Him be the Glory! I pray for women/couples going through infertility and miscarriage on a regular basis, that they may feel the healing comfort and graces of God. 

Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patri. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam to solus Sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.      


Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Happies (Vol. 1)

                    

Linking up with Blessed to Be today for her Little Happies series :) 

 
{1}
 
                 
This jam is oh I don't know, nothing short of amazing! I got it at TJ's a couple weeks ago for a tea party I had for an engaged friend. It was good on a scone with some cream, it was good on pancakes, it was good with some sunflower seed butter and it was amazing as a coconut milk ice cream! Yup I went there, I made blackberry coconut milk ice cream with it and it was oh.so.tasty. This stuff is great :) 


 
{2}


This small book case we got for our entry way on Saturday makes me smile. For awhile we have been needing some kind of table/bookcase to keep our bible study and RCIA materials readily available as well as a place to dump my CrMS bag and purse. I had been putting it on the couch and coffee table which made our living room look messy but now its all nice and tidy. Yes, clean and organized spaces definitely are one of life's little pleasures.

 

{3}
 

These quotes from Verily Magazine that they put up on face.book almost daily. I had been enjoying every single one of them before I went off of face.book for Lent. They have some really great quotes and articles, it's a really good magazine. 



 

 
{4}

No picture for this one because that would be kind of weird, Confession is my 4th Little Happy. I got to go on Saturday after weeks of wanting to go but not taking the time to go. JJ and I went as we had almost the whole day to do what we wanted, it was so glorious! I love the graces that are available through receiving the Sacraments. 


{5}

No picture for the last one either, womp womp. I am not great at taking pictures while having fun, I either forget to bring my camera or to use it. Number five is hanging out with friends! We hung out with some friends we hadn't spent time with in awhile and it was nice to catch up and share that delicious ice cream I made. You know those friends who are the real deal and you feel like spending time with them makes you an all around better person, yeah those are the friends that we hung out with for a couple hours on Sunday evening. 

{6} Bonus!
 
Gluten free home made waffles! I made them on Sunday morning as we had an unexpected cancellation of our RCIA class we teach. I took the time to make them instead of making plain old pancakes. We used our new waffle maker and they were so good. I haven't had really good gfree waffles and these have been the best. I didn't take a picture because by the time I thought about it they were all gobbled up! 

     {7} Another Bonus!


 
These Polish dishes my mother in law picked up for me at a yard sale. They also match her wedding set from Japan that my father in law bought when he was stationed there while in the Navy. I have always loved her wedding dishes that she brings out for special occasions so when she saw these matched hers she asked if I wanted them, of course I said yes. If there is anything I have learned from being married it's that you don't refuse gifts from your MIL ;) Aren't they just gorgeous! I love them and I was happy to use them when I had the tea party for my friend. They really stole the show for me and I felt so fancy using them.
 
 

 

I hope you all are enjoying Little Happies of your own!