My Year in Photos: December

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As I look back on the previous year, the best way I can describe 2014 was that it was the year that I found my voice.

When I finished college, I found myself feeling very lost. For most of my life, my dream was to go to college, but once the whole college experience ended, I found myself without any job offers and most of my friends were getting engaged or married or having children. It didn’t help that I lost a dear friend who was with me from the beginning of my college years. He was a retired teacher, a pastor that I often had lunch with, and he passed away of old age. Losing him around the same time I graduated college made me feel like I was completely losing everything I knew about myself. When 2013 started, I also lost another friend who turned out to be a toxic influence and most of the year was spent making new friends outside of the safety of a college campus and the internet.

When 2014 came around, I started taking more positive risks. I started this blog and took pictures of what I was grateful for everyday. I participated in a poetry-a-day-challenge. I volunteered at an Awakening retreat in March and taught Sunday School at my local church. I had the opportunity to travel. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that 2014 was perfect, but it was definitely of the good, at least on a personal level for me.

When I think about what it meant for me to find my voice in 2014, I think of 2 events: the first was Comicpalooza, where I met the cast of Buffy and got to ask them questions at the panel. It wasn’t a picture-perfect moment, but it was pretty close to it because I spoke with confidence, even amidst my girlish giggling.

The second event was me giving testimony at the September Awakening retreat. I gave my speech with just my voice, no microphone necessary. I talked about how the friends I made during Awakening became the community I needed to have after finishing college. Keep in mind, by the way, that during both moments, I stood in a large room in front of a lot of people. The days of me taking anxiety medication are long gone now.

So with reflections out of the way for now, here are my 10 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Visit some convents. I’m currently interested in meeting the Daughters of St. Pal.
  2. Travel to more places outside of Texas. I especially hope to go to Philadelphia for Pope Francis’s first visit to America.
  3. Write 700 words a day for 50 days to finally finish the 2nd (or was it 3rd) draft of my novel.
  4. Read at least 12 new books by reading at least 1 book every 2 weeks.
  5. Lose 5lbs every week by snacking less and going to the gym and/or taking a 30 minute walk at least 3x a week.
  6. Keep updating my gratitude journal by listing at least 3 things I’m grateful for every day.
  7. Update this blog at least once a week.
  8. Learn how to drive by taking classes in the next few months.
  9. Increase my prayer life by praying the Rosary and Examen daily and the Liturgy of the Hours at least once a week.
  10. Finish 3 new knitting projects and, if possible, be able to knit presents for everyone for Christmas 2015.

 

Here’s to the new year, y’all!

What I Learned From My California Vacation

Sometimes vacations can be a lot of fun. Sometimes, they feel way too short. But for my California vacation, it seemed like I learned a lot about myself, things I never realized before. It wasn’t some big spiritual epiphany like in Eat, Pray, Love, but a lot of little things.

The first thing I learned is that although I liked getting dressed up for my cousin’s big 18th birthday party, I felt like I was wearing a costume. I hated having fake nails and while the dress I wore was beautiful, it was not easy to dance in. Also, I’m pretty sure my big toe is still hurting from wearing platform sandals all night. Sometimes, you have to play around with the idea of being something you’re not in order to figure out what kind of person you are.

The second thing I learned was that the best times I had during the vacation were whenever I was having a low-key element of fun. Singing karaoke, line dancing, or just having dinner with friends, I loved it all. But the most fun I had was whenever I went off on my own to have adventures. I learned that when it comes to being alone, there are good times and bad times, but sometimes, you can be your own best friend.

The third thing I learned was that I had a lot of emotional healing to do. The one thing I was afraid of when I went back to Los Angeles was running into people I didn’t want to see. Thankfully, I didn’t. But I don’t want the people who’ve hurt me in the past to have this power over me anymore. In the past few weeks, I found ways to forgive them. The pain won’t go away overnight, but I’m getting there and getting better.

The last thing I learned while I was in California was that I found that I can really write. The trip ended at the same time that the Writer’s Digest Poem A Day Challenge ended, so I spent my last day of vacation reflecting on the fact that I wrote 30+ poems in a single month. I also left California with an idea for a new character and a better plot outline for my novel. Although I’m nowhere close to publishing anything, I feel like I’m a better writer now than when I lived in California all those years ago.

So now I’m spending my time perfecting my writing. What’s next for me? You’ll find out this summer.

Lent Day 22: Nostalgia-You Can't Take It With You

Nostalgia is a very weird thing. What’s nostalgic for some may not be nostalgic for others.

For example, people who grew up in the 80s fondly remember the song “Take On Me” and the iconic music video that went with the song. However, I was born in 1990, so I don’t have any real memories of hearing that song as a kid or seeing the music video. However, if you ask me if I recall the theme song to Sailor Moon, I can pretty much sing it by heart. Also, I was too young for the target audience of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and yet my afternoons as a kid still revolved around a blonde teenage girl from California…she just lived in Beverly Hills and went by the name of Cher Horowitz. Yep, I watched Clueless the TV series. As well as Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

What prompted this trip down memory lane? Nostalgia Critic’s video about the Disney Afternoon. Unfortunately, as much as I loved watching this guy’s reviews I had no nostalgic recollection of coming home after school to watch the Disney Afternoon. Whenever I came home from school, I would usually do my homework first. However, I did remember One Saturday Morning, which was something that Critic mentioned.

No, my childhood at the time consisted of a mix of Fox Kids (to watch Power Rangers), Nickelodeon’s shows, and Toonami.

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection talks about what we take with us when we die. This brings me to the funniest thing about nostalgia: hindsight.

The word “nostalgia” implies yearning, a longing for something happy from the past. But sometimes, hindsight removes that filter we put around our nostalgic memories and makes us see them for what they really are.

For example, when I was a kid, I used to watch Beast Wars. When I found it on Netflix, I was super excited to watch it again…but it wasn’t as cool as I remembered it. The show overall was hammy and sometimes the dialogue was seriously laughable. But it still holds up okay.

That same hindsight can apply to our past actions. Are there parts of our lives we look back on with more fondness than we ought to? I mean, there are people out there making movies about how nostalgia can turn into a nightmare. Sometimes the things from our past that seemed right at the time may not hold up now.

In the end, we can’t even take our own memories with us.