100th post

So today is a very special day because as of right now I have officially written 100 BLOG POSTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is exciting. I feel like a little kid who has had too much sugar. I’m pretty psyched that the blog has continued for this long and that I’ve managed to write this much without (I hope) compromising the integrity of the writing itself. Even though I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve learned a ton about blogging and I’ve really enjoyed it thus far. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday I didn’t even understand how to properly use a tag?

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To commemorate the day I thought I’d also make a list in no particular order of things I wish I also had a hundred of:

  1. puppies
  2. paid vacation days
  3. thousand dollars
  4. amazing new blog post ideas
  5. Barnes and Noble gift cards
  6. student loan discounts
  7. hours to sleep
  8. cardigans
  9. days at the beach
  10. french fries (I wouldn’t finish but I’d like to see it)
  11. restaurants in walking distance from my office
  12. coffee mugs
  13. straight days to work on a book I’m trying to write
  14. pairs of shoes
  15. bookmarks
  16. bundles of yarn
  17. well-matched outfits
  18. more likes for my blog’s Facebook page and other social media
  19. feet of storage in my closet
  20. flavors of liquid coffee creamer in my office
  21. daisies
  22. extra hours to volunteer
  23. vouchers for Kennywood (the best amusement park EVER that just happens to be located in western PA)
  24. views of this post
  25. offers to write for publications I respect
  26. years on my domain name agreement
  27.  journals
  28. plane tickets to visit friends scattered across the country
  29. scarves (one can never have too many)
  30. phone chargers
  31. computer techs at my disposal to help me with my technology
  32. free months of Netflix
  33. years til my Driver’s license expires
  34. decent chap sticks
  35. bobby pins
  36. stationary cards of different varieties
  37. stamps
  38. days left of my Amazon prime free trial
  39. tickets to Pittsburgh sporting events
  40. cases of Sparkling water (I’m addicted)
  41. more ideas to put on this list because this is my last one

I hope this list gave you a chuckle. Thanks so much for being a fabulous reader and/or subscriber. Here’s to at least 100 more posts!

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Story Time

While hanging out a group of friends recently, I had an extremely flattering experience. Somehow somebody mentioned my blog in passing and the other three people chimed in with their opinions and how they liked it. And I was flabbergasted (that word deserves a comeback and it captures the emotions of that moment perfectly) to the point where the friend who brought it up asked me “did you not think anyone actually read it?”

Partially. I mean, I see the stats confirming that my site gets traffic, but I still don’t think I’ll ever get over the shock that people beyond my supportive family would actually take the time to read my writing. But the thing that shocks me the most is also my absolute favorite thing about this blog: that the people who read it are the never the type you’d expect.

What I mean by that is, most blogs that have any sort of religious affiliation/religious words in the title only get read by people in that niche, people looking to read something explicitly religious or dealing with a political issue from a religious perspective, etc. But the majority of people who read my blog aren’t Catholic- and that’s awesome! I mean I’m always willing to share my faith because I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, but so much Catholic/Christian writing is geared towards other Catholic/Christian readers. That is not in itself a bad thing, but I see no reason for exclusivity. Because when I read Catholic/Christian writing it makes sense to me because I come from that background, but I worry that to the atheists and agnostics and people with no identifiable religion such pieces would look like Mandarin (i.e. another language), and they give up on it/become as discouraged as I would be if someone ever asked me to learn fluent Mandarin. (I picked Mandarin as an example specifically because I’ve heard that it’s difficult to master and is not a romance language so the same rules I’ve always followed when learning a language in the past would not apply).

So when I write my blog I get so excited when non-Catholics read it because learning a religion is a lot like learning a language in that before you can speak it confidently you must first learn to decipher what it means from a variety of sources, written text, verbal communication, in context of culture and community, and often in light of the ancient origins as well.

And I’m glad that even non-Catholics can come and enjoy what I’ve translated so far because with God each chapter somehow becomes better than the last. And the adventures I chronicle on this blog I am happy to share with whoever wants to wander the path along with me. Because I’ve always believed that time is our vessel, not our dwelling place and that the essence of true religion is simply a soul’s journey home. And the more that share the road with me the better the better the story becomes.

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Don’t Give Up

So the other day I got some bad news. It wasn’t new news, per se, but I’ve been having all kinds of minor health problems lately that have me being bounced around like a ping-pong ball between different specialists as they try to pinpoint which cause is responsible for which symptom.

It’s a frustrating process, not in the least because I sincerely worry that my boss will stop believing me the more I repeatedly ask to take off work to go to the next doctor who, of course, will also want a follow-up appointment.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if I didn’t have to ask permission to join something that I really want to join, something which I’m not sure will accept me as a candidate even though I feel truly called to do it. And that’s hard. Because obviously I won’t know their answer until after I apply, which won’t be in the immediate future. And in the gap that waiting always brings there is much room for doubt.

But it’s funny, even in the midst of some very reasonable objections I could see brought against me, I was surprised when my extremely practical family members looked me right in the eye and said “don’t give up.”

In the right context, those words can be quite powerful.

Because even though I was expecting my family to say “yeah it’s unlikely” or “yeah don’t set your heart on it, keep your options open” they instead believed in two people that I sometimes struggle to believe in, myself and God. They believed that in spite of resistance I might face that God is truly calling me to do it and that, if that is the case, neither hell nor high water will stand in my way. And I was touched because I know the reason they believe I can do it is because they have witnessed the strong interior conversion I described having, the one that inspired this blog in the first place, and the one that has carried me through many storms and placed me back on my feet on the other side to walk along brand new shores. And I’m sure I’m a better person for it.

And as I reach my one year anniversary of being a medical enigma, I also approach my one year anniversary of my littler way, a practice of living in the present moment with God. A process I will describe more in detail come the new year. A process that took the sting out of my bad news because, from the relationship that developed there, when push came to shove and I had to ask myself that tough question: “do I really trust God to take care of me, to get me through this and accomplish His Will for my life even in the face of potentially serious opposition?” My answer was a genuine “yes, I do.” Because God likes to accomplish the utterly impossible for me, it’s kind of our thing. I blame myself really because the truth is, as Miss Piggy pointed out in The Great Muppet Caper, “you wanted excitement!”

So I renew the promise I made when I began my consecration to the Blessed Mother, “No matter what happens, I won’t give up.”

Because in spite of everything I still have my new faith, and it really does make all the difference.