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a little slice of humble pie with patience on the side

February 2, 2016

Fair warning, it’s been almost a year since I’ve blogged and there is a long story ahead. Get comfortable and enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage. 🙂

2015 was a seriously challenging year. Looking back, I jumped the gun in announcing my entrance into Consecrated Life. Before the trials came, it seemed as if I already made the decision, interiorly speaking. What I didn’t realize is that I was into the Discernment period, which started September 2014. In February 2015, it was made public to City of the Lord and to many of my dear family and friends that I was discerning. This period of discernment was certainly a challenging time.

I began experiencing incredible headaches late October 2014. They were pretty steady throughout the winter months until I went to Urgent Care on February 3 for a particularly bad one. I saw my regular doctor two days later and confirmed that I needed a CT Scan to see what’s going on. Through this test, they found a cyst in my pituitary gland called a “Rathke’s Cleft Cyst,” a benign little growth about 7.5 mm in size close to my left optic nerve. It got confirmed with an MRI in March. I’d seen a neurologist, an endocrinologist, a neuro-opthamologist, a neurosurgeon and my regular doctor at various times throughout 2015. I won’t even get into the drama of dealing with my insurance over covering the CT Scan. It was not pretty.

Throughout that entire ordeal, each specialist came to the conclusion that the cyst wasn’t the cause for my ridiculous headaches.

No wonder I didn’t post a single thing since February 17, 2015! It was tough dealing with headaches that would floor me without warning, compounded by the running around to different specialists to figure out what was causing them and fighting with my insurance, which ended with me paying a whopping sum of money to cover part of the CT Scan. Was I confused beyond my mental capacity? Absolutely.

In the middle of all of this, I had encountered a soul similar in passion and talent and we tried to work together to make some music. It was definitely a time of incredible creativity for me. In spite of the unpredictable headaches, I managed to write some lyrics and music in a manner that I had not tried before: melodies would come first instead of lyrics, recording bits and pieces on my phone, deconstructing the recordings to get sketches written out on paper. One of my proudest moments came as a song inspired by one of my roommates, A., and my goddaughter, K.

Like Never Before

I am sad to say that this was the only song we got to record and there isn’t a finished version of it, save for a rough orchestration. This person had a lot of things going on in his own journey and for whatever reason or another, we met in this particularly trying place. The fallout was still particularly painful for me and I felt like I was going through a breakup, even though it was never anything more than a mutually creative endeavor. Around this time, I lost a friend in the most bewildering of circumstances. I have never imagined myself being so involved at such a crucial moment as he entered into eternal rest. The 24-48 hours between his passing and the public announcement was one of the most astounding experiences of my life. Between these two, my confidence in relating to men was shaken badly. It made me question myself and my own shortcomings.

All of these trials were INCREDIBLY important. I could not see myself clearly at this time and all I did was enter into a period of Discerning my Vocation as a Consecrated Woman. WOAH. Now I can see the period of discernment is crucial. It’s similar to exclusively dating a single person before making the decision that it’s time to enter a period of engagement, with the intention of getting married. Even though a couple would be in a period of engagement, it does not automatically mean that they are getting married. Sometimes the engagement gets broken off to enable one or both parties to address crucial areas that could seriously hinder his or her ability to enter into marriage freely, faithfully, totally and fruitfully. The same goes for the process of entering Religious Life or Lay Consecrated Life. This time of discernment was certainly a period of discovering myself and finally start healing on every level possible.

There were other moments that occurred after that winter of drastic challenges. I changed my appearance several times over, much to the alarm of my family and some folk in the community:

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I was never really one for wearing colors, but here I was coloring my hair in odd shades I would have never done before. Granted, it was definitely eye catching and somehow an expression of the bewildering journey of figuring out what was wrong with my head. Another thing I did not expect was a change in how I view myself. From the moment I had my hair in a blue-purple ombre, I started seeing the beauty in my appearance. It sounds completely mental, but I never saw myself as being physically beautiful. It took this drastic change in appearance to acknowledge a spark of beauty I had never seen before. I also realized that it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about my funny hair colors. Somehow, I needed to express myself in this way and embrace the ups and downs of my interior world. I often referred to my hair color as #ReflectingTheMadnessWithin. When I switched to a fuschia ombre, I changed the tag to #ReflectingTheFireWithin. It was virtually impossible to be sad when I’d wake up and see this bright color on my pillow in the morning. Somehow, it kept me hopeful.

During the summer, I took up Youth Ministry on top of my regular duties as a Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation for Kindergarten through 8th grade. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Youth Ministry until this opportunity came up. The workload has increased significantly, but I am so happy to be able to tap into my YM skill set. I also touched bases with people I have not seen in a long while: family, friends and colleagues. I cherished every single encounter in my heart and felt the love of the Lord through the Body of Christ.

By the fall, I finally started addressing the need to live a simple life and found inspiration through a dear friend, who had taken up the challenge from a post I put up on my FB page. She picked up the book,”the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. I highly recommend this as a tool to help simplify your life, only if you’re ready to make such a change. It’s also the same concept as going to therapy. It only works if you are ready to face yourself and your stuff. If you don’t want to work, don’t waste your time or money in this manner.

However, you gotta know that it’s worth doing the work. Seriously.

After I simplified my belongings, I started simplifying my eating habits. I returned to eating as a nutritarian which is a primarily a plant based diet as outlined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live.” I’d done this before, but now I was living in a household where at least one of my roommates wanted to do this, too. The results are ASTOUNDING. I physically started dropping the weight and inches around my body. I was sleeping better and found more energy. I stepped up the food changes by fasting from sugar first, mostly as a sacrifice for the sake of a special intention. It totally helped and prepared me for a successful change in eating habits. I managed to drop weight during the holiday season, which was an incredible feat according to my regular doctor.

I renewed my commitment to discern in September 2015. So many things have changed for me and I could see the difference: financially, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The healing on each of these levels has shown fruit I had not expected, but this time, I was ready to accept these wholeheartedly. These past six months have been a time of refining the changes and I now know I am ready to enter into the first year of commitment of Consecrated Life. I mistakenly stated I was entering Consecrated Life last February, not knowing the exact implications of making such promises; however, I truly believe that my heart desired to make such a commitment, even though the rest of me was not ready yet. My resolve was tested these past 18 months and I find myself grounded and clearly pursuing this beautiful Vocation. I cannot say for sure what I expect in this first year of commitment, but I am ready for whatever may come. I am His Little Bride and His Musician and Jesus is my Divine Lover, Inspiration and my reason to live.

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Happy feast of the Presentation of the Lord and World Day of Consecrated Life! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. St. Joseph, pray for us. All the Angels and Saints, pray for us.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam,

Vanida

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