Find Your Center

I promised myself that I would take some time to check in with you. Yeah, you! It’s been busy, again, just like last week, only it’s colder weather-wise.

Before we even get started, I wanted to share some news happening over at Real Housekeeping. They are an affiliate seller for the Ultimate DIY Bundle where 76 eBooks and eCourses (and some fun bonuses) are available until January 26th. Why is this great? Fifty percent of Real Housekeeping’s net income (from the sale of this bundle or anything via their affiliate links) is donated to worthy charities assisting the hungry and the homeless. While I can’t add the link here, I can humbly implore you to visit the site and if you feel so inclined to learn to sew, take great pictures, learn how to write, finally get your garden going or scrapbook, that you make the purchase there, knowing that some of your money will go to those less fortunate.

*PSA announcement has ended*

I’ve been going to physical therapy (supposed to be twice a week, but I like I told the physical therapist, “let’s not get crazy”) and we’ve been doing these exercises to help with the neck spasms I’ve been experiencing since November.  Surprisingly, these spasms are residual side effects from a car accident, and a falling-down-the-stairs-as-I-was-walking-the-dog-we-no-longer-have incident. Both happened within 6 months of each other 2 years ago, and left me with two concussions. I really know how to do it, huh?

The exercises are supposed to balance me. I lean toward the left when I stand, my left eye rolls out when I focus on an object as it comes towards me (the eyes should both move inward) and when my eyes are closed? Fugghetaboutit, I look like I’m trying to balance in a bouncy house. I’m all over the place. This causes migraines, dizziness and bouts of trying to get my sentences together and having difficulty finding the words. Kind of important for writing, don’tcha think?

Find Your Center. How does physical therapy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and faith intersect? Where does an inspirational quote from come into play, read to find out. A new post by @fillpraycloset
By Saffron Blaze (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
At my last appointment, I had to look at myself in a full length mirror (hello fluorescent lighting and when is my home gym going to get here), and really look at how I was standing. I looked like the leaning tower of Pisa. I was leaning to the left, and that felt like center to me. Forget that when I wake up in the morning, the left side of my lower back and hip hurt from the extra strain, I always favored the left side.

She asked me to shift my weight and align myself as she repeated softly “Find your center”. The more she kept saying it, the less I was conscious in that space. My subconscious popped it’s curly head up as if my physical therapist was taking roll call. When I finally got to what center looked like in the mirror, it was hard to keep that weight shifted correctly, especially when she asked me to try to hold it with my eyes closed. I couldn’t. I had to hold on to something. My thigh muscles trembled underneath the new weight. I couldn’t trust that I could stay centered without visual cues. My muscles are conditioned to lean on the left, even when I’m in the car, I noticed that my upper body leans toward the left and when I shift to center, I soon find it uncomfortable and go back to the usual left, crouched position as I drive.

It’s kind of what a lot of things are like, isn’t it? Whether we are so busy a pocket of rest is unnerving and we have to fill it even though we know the balance is good for us; or if we are spending some time to pray in the chapel and the silence is too silent, we get uncomfortable, and pull out something to read, just me? It’s become hard for us, for me, to find and rest with balance, with being centered. As I continued to do the exercises, my mind wandered to God. Of course! I immediately asked myself questions, am I leaning away from God or toward him? And if I’m leaning away, what am I afraid of? Am I afraid of balance in my prayer life and everything else, because then what am I “working on”? I always feel like I can do better, pray more sincerely, be more aware of those in need. In Confessions, St. Augustine says (emphasis is mine):

Find Your Center. How does physical therapy and faith intersect? Where does an inspirational quote from come into play, read to find out. A new post by @fillpraycloset

And maybe it’s just that I will always be this way, until I find rest in Him.

Check your balance. Find your center. Are you at rest there, or are you like me and feel a bit uncomfortable there?

Let me know.

Here’s a sweet pin for ya

Is It Here Already?

It’s the end of the year. We made it through a season of seasons and are now ending the book on 2014. I thought I would review the year with you so we could read and say”Hmmm, oh yeah, I remember that. Wait! Oh yeah, I can’t believe she said that. She should have stayed in bed that day!” together. I wrote 214 posts this year, and will give you just the highlights. You with me? No matter, we’re going anyway.

JanuaryNew Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

I was pretty reflective in January as I began making my Consecration to Mary and reflected with you on what came out through prayer. Apparently, Picasso came out, and some talk about how we perceive ourselves and I went back to the beginning replacing Vizzini in The Princess Bride with the Holy Spirit. 

 

February

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

I teamed up with Tiffany over at Life of a Catholic Librarian for a Super Friends version of Lent. We banged out a week’s worth of posts covering the pillars of Lent, Ash Wednesday where my husband was corralled into getting ashes and I couldn’t stop laughing,  and Shrove Tuesday to name but a few shenanigans highlights.

March

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

By far, the most fun post to write was the Catholic Celebrities post! From the image to the research, I had a blast finding out which stars were Catholic! I juxtaposed that with a post on Oriella Cazzanello; a woman from Northern Italy, who traveled to a clinic in Basel, Switzerland, and paid €10,000 to kill herself. I did that on purpose because as much as we fawn over physical beauty,  we shouldn’t hold that in such high regard that we fail to see the people behind the perfected face.

April

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillprayclosetHoly A to Z challenge people. I really pulled out all the stops and joined a challenge with over 1,000 bloggers globally and wrote about the Catholic Faith from A to Z. By far the most popular in that month long series was the topic of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary (shocker!)

May

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

I shared why I love being a working mother. Seven reasons why I love being a working mother, actually. That chair is one of them. I just noticed that you can see a picture of me with my stepdaughter, where we used jumbo crayola crayons as mustaches. Points to you if you find it. But seriously…

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillprayclosetMay.was.huge. I went on pilgrimage to Italy and the major highlight? I was this far away from the Pope! That bodyguard still freaks me out though. Hi, Papa Francesco!

 

June

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillprayclosetIn June, I was featured on SITS, a networking website of over 75,000 women bloggers who aim to support one another through commenting and social media shares.

I was also honest about family, shared how grateful I am for my original bestie, Mike and the boys – and how crying is ok, so long as you’re looking at the ceiling with me (you know, so you don’t mess up the mascara)

July

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

My husband shared what it’s like to be married to me and it’s no picnic, I can tell you. He hilariously shared some things that will make you laugh, although he doesn’t laugh when I do these things. Hmph, that’s interesting.

Continuing with the honesty tip, I shared some things in my childhood that connect with my vocation as a mother. It’s not like I was thinking of it that day. It was a knee-jerk response to a link up that went awry in my head somehow. A response that should have been light-hearted and playful, triggered something dark and buried. That post changed me. I have to admit, I was in a pretty deep funk after I wrote that piece, and only in the past month have I been able to get past being so vulnerable. I think that means you owe me lunch or something.

August

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset
Credit: Morguefile via @scottmliddell

I remember I was thinking about NaNoWriMo in August. I tried my hand at a short story prompt for a link up. It took place in a coffee shop and had to tie into Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. No pressure, but I guess I did ok? I included my favorite pastry. (Always with the food, Cristina!!!)

I learned not to take myself so seriously, as far as living my faith goes. Sometimes we’re our own worse critic, right? I shared my confession with you? What was I thinking?! Oh, I know, I realized that  I am the Paralytic, my sins are forgiven and I can get up and walk.

September

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

Oh September, how you taunt with organization and your back-to-school supplies. Just when you think you are planned up and ready to hit the end of the year like no body’s business, you hit the land that time forgot, or spiritual dryness. I tried to keep it light, and likened this vast desert to Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.

But, I also shared how you can tell if you’re an introvert, because I really know.

October

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

I chatted with my tribe-peeps, and we shared some of the search terms on our blogs. I never really paid much attention, so when I looked and couldn’t stop laughing, I had to share them with you.

I was panicking the last few days of October because I was gearing up for NaNoWriMo. I was up early to pray, as I am more focused when I do that, and this post came to me, like a surprise “thinking of you card” from a friend. In this case, that friend was Blessed Mother Teresa. We’re besties. You didn’t know?

November

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillprayclosetNovember was a blur for you too, right? Hubby went to Poland for two weeks on business while I wrote and crafted and crammed words every day to meet the 50,000 word goal that is NaNoWriMo. I’m not finished with the novel, but I hit the goal, so there’s that. 

December

All the birthday that was to be had, was had by me! I even had a birthday cheesecake this weekend (even though my birthday was on Gaudete Sunday!). That’s how you birthday, you extend it for a week. Of course, I reflected on what I’ve learned in my 36 years of being on this earth.

We’re still in December, I know that. But this is where I will leave you because Christmas, my family, food, mass and resting (cross stitch*, reading and contemplating). Those are all important things, my most favorite things. I will be back in January, with fire in my belly (because people need to recognize! Wuuuuuuut?!) and ice in my hair. Why? Because I go out with my hair wet and it freezes. That’s why.

As promised, here is the Ugly Christmas Sweater picture I promised you on Friday.

New Post: Is It Here Already? A year in review. That should keep you busy till 2015  by @fillpraycloset

Merry Christmas, dear readers. I am so glad you were here this year. I’m glad I was here this year. I say, we do this all again in 2015, you know, but we’ll be wiser, and hopefully more willing to exercise. Who am I kidding?!?!

Peace out!

*I can’t go a day without writing the word cross stitch. I am officially addicted!

My Second Very Real Letter to You This Advent

I was driving the other day. I love long stretches of road where my mind is forced to slow. Where the images that blur past are a reflection of my thoughts melting, one into another, until I am underneath all the veneer. All the smile that I put on for everyone because it’s a lot of work to share the crap. The real crap. Then, I remembered that I felt like this last year. I said things like this last year. Will this become a thing? Oh, I hope not.

This month I’ve had my fair share of hits. So, this letter goes out to all of you who have thrown a punch in my general direction. You didn’t make contact, I can bob and weave like the best of them, but the stale air behind those missed punches, well, they linger and leave me with the question:

Sometimes a letter than encompasses your feelings is the best route. Here's mine, and it's addressed to, well, I'll never tell.  By @fillpraycloset

Dear _________________,

I don’t know you. I don’t know why you hide behind the pretentious corset of “cooler than thou” or smarter than the “average bear”. I don’t know why you say what you say, or why you say it. I don’t know why you think the way I do anything is wrong, or needs to be improved. Least of all, I don’t know why you feel it’s ok to put me down.

Why? Because you don’t really know me either. You don’t know that my flaws are my greatest strengths. You don’t know that I love to cheer and get behind whatever it is you’re most passionate about and ask for nothing in return. You don’t know that I am brave. Brave enough to try anything and everything whether it be writing, or converting to a faith I knew little about. You don’t know that I consider fails to be wins, vulnerability to be beautiful and you certainly don’t know that I know, that you, you are a sad child yourself.

I freeze up when the insults come, not because I am afraid, but because I am trying to understand you. Because the insults makes no sense. I am shifting quickly to a place of trying to help you get past the pain you tried to inflict upon me, that is merely a broken reflection of you.

Unfortunately, I can’t be your fixer. I can’t be your worry-stone, your means to make yourself feel better about the cruelty you dish out. I can’t be the one you call upon when your ego needs a boost, or when you need that final push, and I certainly won’t be your whipping girl. Here’s what I can do, I can walk away and leave you to play with your toys while I chase my dreams. My dreams are like butterflies. Sure, they kiss flowers and they’re hard to catch, but they are beautiful, they are mine, and they are more real than any “real” you try to conjure up. Most importantly, they can fly away from you.

So the answer to my question is, I don’t really care who you are, because you don’t really care to know who I am either.

Peace out,

Cristina

All the Spasms

Hey Thursday, how are you?

That’s how I woke up today because I’m trying to snap out of a drug induced stupor. What? Yes. NaNoWriMo left me with neck spasms. I had no idea that the sharp pain in my neck that would turn into migraines like I’ve never felt was due to neck strain, most likely from writing.

I went to the doctor yesterday and he gave me muscle relaxers (extended release) and high octane ibuprofen mixed with Prilosec. If I am not better in two weeks, well it’s the chiropractor or physical therapy. The muscle relaxer was supposed to make me groggy after 6 hours, so I was instructed to take it at 6pm, so I could sleep most of it off. Well, let.me.tell.you! I don’t listen to instructions well. I took it at 5pm thinking I know myself and I’ll need more sleep-it-off time. I finished making dinner, and then snuggled on the couch to watch, what else, Ink Masters, and I was out cold after 45 mins. COLD. As in, I think Mike told me to go up to bed and I responded “Don’t play with matches”. That was at 8pm. I took the meds thinking I had time to cross stitch, which I am totally loving, by the way. See?

New Post: All the Spasms  #writing #blogging #serialpodcast http://wp.me/p3xcDn-1J9 by @fillpraycloset
Manicure, anyone?

I managed to get some stitching done, and then settled in for Ink Masters. And that was it. Good thing my husband told me to let the bossman (yes, I call my boss that) know that I would be working from home the next day. He had a feeling that I was going to be out like trout the next day, and I am.

My muscles were TOTALLY relaxed this morning. It took me 20 minutes to will myself out of bed. (Why is that any different from any other day, someone tell me?) As I am trying to get up, this is how my brain managed to help me. My brain, always playing these little games with me.

New Post: All the Spasms  #writing #blogging #serialpodcast http://wp.me/p3xcDn-1J9 by @fillpraycloset

But let’s talk about other stuffs, and by other stuffs we, as in me and all of my toes, mean Serial. Only the most awesomely awesomest podcast that ever lived. EVER. Because podcasts live? I digress. I started listening to it, there are 10 podcasts up and you MUST start from the beginning, or no toe wiggling for you (have I exhausted this gif yet?) and yours truly, finished it in 24 hours. Each podcast is 28-55 minutes long. The website says that:

Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it.

But holy pancakes Batman, it’s more than that. It’s about the murder of a teenaged girl, well, let’s get Wikipedia to tell you, I’m still all muscle relaxed.

Season 1 is an investigation into a 1999 Baltimore murder. Koenig has said, Serial is “about the basics: love and death and justice and truth. All these big, big things.” She also has noted, “this is not an original idea. Maybe in podcast form it is, and trying to do it as a documentary story is really, really hard. But trying to do it as a serial, this is as old as Dickens.” Episodes are released weekly on Thursday, and vary in length.

Hae Min Lee was an 18 year old student at Woodlawn High School. Lee was last seen at approximately 3pm on January 13, 1999. Her corpse was discovered on February 9 in Leakin Park and identified two days later, with the case immediately being treated as a homicide. Lee’s ex-boyfriend Adnan Musud Syed was arrested on February 28 at 6 a.m. and charged with first-degree murder, which led to “some closure and some peace” for Lee’s family. A memorial service for Lee was held on March 11 at Woodlawn High School. Syed was found guilty of Lee’s murder on February 25, 2000 after a six-week trial, and was given a life sentence despite pleading his innocence.

If you ask me, and you are, I think Mr. S had more to do with this than we all know because, Ep. 3. A small tidbit that even Tiff didn’t remember, that stuck with me like, how did Ericka Clay say it in Chapter 1 of her new serialized novel on Wattpad (see what I did there?) like flypaper. It stuck to me like flypaper. Here’s the transcript

– – – SPOILER ALERT – – –
(thank you Reddit for the transcript)

The closest I got was, bear with me, I found out that Mr. S’s sister-in-law was a math teacher at Woodlawn back in 1999 when all this happened. So I called her. Hae was her student, she said. An excellent student. Top of the line. But she didn’t think Mr. S knew anything about the crime before he found the body. She put her husband on the phone, Mr. S’s younger half-brother. And he said, “you know what’s crazy? I used to live next door to the kid that did it!” That was back when Adnan was nine or ten.

I know enough to know, that this coincidence, is no coincidence. That’s too much, boo-boo (complete with hand claps over each syllable). I can’t overlook it.

So that, and cross stitching are like a delicious, mouthwatering cocktail for me. There was something else I wanted to gab about, what is it? Oh yes, my last post, where I mentioned that things would be changing around here. I was asked by my tribey peeps what that meant, and if I would be moving, etc. We all chatted a bit, and I shared some feelings about it. We decided that all it meant was a re-branding. Or at least that’s what I took from the conversation, I was hopped up on goofballs last night. But now, in the light of this here Christmas tree in my living room, I don’t know if I am a brand that needs re-ing. Know what I mean? Here’s the pickle, when I write about Catholicky-goodness, that fits here, right? When I don’t, and people who expect Catholicky-goodness come to read, they must be all “how the heck does NaNoWrimo have anything to do with faith” and they are, for the most part, right. How does it fit? It don’t fit, and I must acquit! Sorry, serving up too much Serial-realness.

I did say this in the secret-private-group-on-Facebook-that-I-absolutely-adore, “I feel like I finished FMPC” yeah man, that’s an acronym that Mary dropped like a mic last night. I kind of loved it too.

While I can’t say why (and Tiffany knows how much I e-hat cryptic messages like this, but alas I have been sworn to secrecy) I feel in my heart that it is. I want to have a space where I can write whateva’s clevah and not feel like I have plaid and paisley on. It doesn’t match.

New Post: All the Spasms  #writing #blogging #serialpodcast http://wp.me/p3xcDn-1J9 by @fillpraycloset

This doesn’t mean that I am still not a writer of faith, or suddenly don’t want to share reflections about my faith, it just means that there’s more to me than that. More to this here writer than that, and I don’t fit into one box. Especially not after I chowed down last night on fried porkchops and a radioactive sized baked potato (it probably was too), they were gooooood. But where do I fit? What do I call the new place? What new place is that? I have a domain with my full name saved, but I don’t even know if I like that, because I like to be private sometimes.

So, that’s where I am with that, and I thought I should flesh out my sentiments from yesterday a bit more for you, because you know, we’re besties and what not.

In a way, my neck is reflecting what my innards already know. It’s screaming out for release. Who makes innard relaxers? If you know, tell them I prefer bubble gum flavored medicine.

Next time, on FMPC.

*cue Serial theme music*

*mic drop*