Sunday, November 27, 2011


It came and went much too fast but I made it back to Berkeley after a very much-needed Thanksgiving holiday.  On Wednesday morning, I made it to the Amtrak station, caramel brulée latte in hand, for my long-awaited trip home.  Usually my mom is able to pick me up and drive me back to Woodland (a blessing I am extremely grateful for!) but this time I opted for a train ride to Davis.  If it weren't for the $20-something ticket price, I would probably take Amtrak home more often.  It really is a wonderful way to travel, at least from my experience.  Looking out the window, one can see a great expanse of both city and land, opening up an entirely new view of the surroundings I typically just notice in passing.  It was a very soothing trip--I spent most of the hour or so just looking out the window and listening to music.  I'm extremely thankful for the change of pace I was able to experience on the ride home.

Back home, I split my time between paper-writing and visiting with friends and family.  Wednesday afternoon, I was able to catch up with both Pablo and Miss Chung over a cup of coffee.  Lucky me, Jason also happened to be in there so he joined in for a while.  Thursday afternoon, my family and I drove to Davis to spend Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family.  I never used to care for Thanksgiving, seeing as my brother and I were always the youngest and never seemed to be able to find much to do or many family members to socialize with.  Now that I'm in my 20s, it seems I'm a little closer in age to the rest of the family so that it's easier to interact with those I wasn't necessarily close to before.  It's really nice to feel so loved and to have some of my cousins, among others, so interested in what I have to share with them.  I spent the majority of Friday at Starbucks, going back through texts and creating a prospectus so that eventually I could start the paper with ease.  Saturday morning, I went to Natomas with Miss Chung and came home with nail polish, a few new clothing items and some supplies for a few DIY Christmas gifts I plan to make.  The rest of the weekend has been spent paper-writing and of course, journeying back to Berkeley for the last week of classes.  I can proudly say I'm on the eighth page out of ten of my paper--I should be able to finish before the night is over.

On a side note, today is the First Sunday of Advent, along with the implementation of the new Roman missal.  It's a time of preparation for the Church and of course for me, as I try to once again center myself and think more deeply about the way in which I live out my faith.  Today's Gospel reading from Mark left a lasting impression this morning, reminding me of the necessity to stay alert and remain watchful, for I "do not know when the time will come" (see Mark 13:33-37).  It's a warning I feel I need to hear as I think I've grown a bit slack lately for a variety of reasons.

Thankfully, the semester is in its last weeks and soon I will get a break from the hustle and bustle of school.  I recognize things could always be worse and I'm certainly quite grateful that they're not.  I guess I just need to focus on the bigger picture!

Blessings to all this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


My mom signed us up for the 24th Annual Davis Turkey Trot and I'm very pleased to say that I managed to survive my first 5K race in over a year.  I'm definitely not the kind of girl that makes time for the gym (although sometimes I wish I had that kind of will power!) and I haven't run in months so initially I was a little apprehensive about running the race.  At the end of the day though, I'm so very glad that I did after all.  I finished the run with a time of 32:18.57, not the greatest of times, of course, but a nice surprise nonetheless for me.  There's something so therapeutic about distance running that I wish I could describe.  It was really wonderful to just run and not think about anything at all, just taking in the scenery, breathing deeply and enjoying the music looping through my headphones.  It was a nice break from the rest of the world and some of the worries that have been swimming around my head.  Maybe I should start going for jogs more often!

I'm still feeling a little out of sorts but I know that everything will turn out just as it is meant to... it'll just take a little faith and trust on my part.  I'm home for the weekend, trying to finish up a project for Monday, study for an exam and figure out the last of the work I need to accomplish before the Thanksgiving holiday.  God willing I can at least get a few things more things out of the way tonight and tomorrow.  Prayers and positive thoughts are very welcome in this stressful time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When the going gets tough, the tough eat ice cream

To be perfectly honest, life isn't the greatest right now.  To be even more honest, my coping strategies for when things get rough aren't the best either.  I tend to turn into a bit of a recluse when things aren't exactly going right, devoting myself to one extreme or the other, either burying myself in work or neglecting all of my responsibilities in favor of Office marathons, retail therapy and Ben & Jerry's.  Lately, I don't have the time for the latter (although the irony here is that I'm writing a blog entry instead of working on my take-home midterm), so I've created a to-do list of all there is left to accomplish before the end of the semester.  I've found if there is one thing I can control in my life, surprisingly enough it's school.  Despite all of the recent chaos, I'm surviving my classes and completing my assignments.  This morning's Spanish class was a nice picker-upper.  I'm taking a class on advanced Spanish grammar and composition and more often than not, it has been a frustrating experience--not at all the teaching style I'm used to, readings that seem irrelevant and answers that are almost never clear.  However, upon walking into class this morning, my professor pulled me aside and said that she's been very impressed with my work, especially the lengthy grammar corrections and explanations that we've had to do, and that she would like me to e-mail her my work so that she can use it as a model for future classes.  She sent me off saying that I have a real talent for grammar.  A bit of a strange compliment but a welcome one, nonetheless.

The majority of the time I find myself in a perpetual state of self-doubt.  I question my ability to be successful and to do the right thing in a way that creates one of two outcomes.  The first is that I psyche myself out so much that I find myself unbelievably surprised when I accomplish something.  I worry and worry and worry only to find that I am fully capable of doing just fine.  The second, a much more detrimental response, is inaction.  I hesitate to the point where I do nothing which only serves to make me look like a person unwilling to put in the necessary effort.  I've come to realize that my lack of confidence does me little to no good, often it only leaves me frustrated and disappointed at my inability to make the right decision.

What I need to remain aware of is the fact that I have within me the tools to be successful.  Typing this blog entry, I can't help but be reminded of a well-known quote spoken by St. Catherine of Siena.  She said, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  Isn't that an incredible image?  I have the capacity to leave a lasting impression on this world, to make something of myself and the community of which I am a part.  It just takes confidence, a knowledge of self, and most importantly, lengthy discernment of God's will for my life.  Something that has become apparent in the course of my writing through this blog is that the one thing I lack above all else is trust.  I believe that God loves me and I have faith in his existence but I often doubt his ability to lead me forward.  Well, if that isn't a red flag, I don't know what is!  So many of my problems are rooted in trust, faith and confidence.  But how does one gain confidence?  That's one question that I have yet to find a clear-cut answer to, although my gut tells me the only thing I can do is pray.

My solution to the tough stuff is not always the healthiest I admit, and with the imminent approach of even more stress (oh yes, finals are on the horizon), I need to find better ways of dealing with my struggles.  The answers are there for me, just in my grasp, but I need to seek them out and ask for them.  Not only that, I need to really believe in myself and my capacity to be successful.  I've made it this far, haven't I?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's tough being a kid

Sometimes when I spend too much time with children, it's easy for me to forget that once upon a time I was one.  During a typical school week, I work Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at a preschool in the area.  Those kids are something else.  They often forget their manners, have little to no understanding of the concept of "personal space," make a TON of noise... they fight, they argue, they scream, they yell.  Some days it's enough to drive a person insane.  However, thinking about the ways that my three and four-year-old's act out, I realize that much of the time my attitude is not any better.  It can be difficult not to get upset when things don't go our way--after all, why shouldn't they?  When something in my life doesn't seem to be going right, more often than not my first instinct is to complain.  Why me? I wonder.  There's no good reason for this to be happening, I declare.  The danger with this thought process though is that often times when I get upset for things going the "wrong" way, what I'm really angry about is that things aren't going my way.  Therein lies the crux of the matter.

Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated with my preschoolers because some days they just can't seem to grasp the idea that you can't always get what you want.  We have a saying we like to use with them: "You get what you get and you don't get upset."  I tend to forget that this little proverb certainly has room for its application in my own life.  Although I may be struggling with school, trying to figure out what the future has in store for me and how on earth I'm going to balance family, friends, relationships, work and everything else with what my education demands of me, it does not give me the right to be self-pitying or to spend the majority of my time complaining.  Father Dan Beeman, a Catholic priest serving in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, recently tweeted something that really resonated with me on this topic: "Self-praise and self-pity are both a danger to the Christian life."  Now, I have to ask myself, in what ways has my self-pity prevented me from performing my duties as a Christian?  Certainly, it has often made it difficult for me to exercise sympathy and to recognize that there is always someone else suffering more than I am at any given moment.  A long-time friend of mine always tells me, "It could always be worse."  No matter how arduous the situation, this statement holds true.  Good itself is never purely absent from our lives.  In our suffering, in our sadness, there is always a silver lining, so long as we take the time and effort to number and appreciate our blessings.  God's love is always with us and often his most glorious gifts come to us in the form of challenges.

I recognize that I worry far too often, especially about things I cannot change.  In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus confronts this issue directly: "Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?"  Here, the answer is clearly no.  My worrying is not productive--if anything, it prevents me from focusing on the matters that so desperately merit my attention.  I'm not always in control and although it drives me nuts to acknowledge that, it's something that I need to be okay with, otherwise I will have an extremely difficult time finding peace in the years to come.  When things do not go my way, I have to learn to see such events as an opportunity to grow.  Self-pity and complaining more often than not are ventures that do not bring fruit, rather they distract us from the reality at hand and from the aspects of our lives that we can control and change.  I pray that with this realization I can learn to better cope with the things in my life that frustrate me and to trust that God will lead me down the proper path so long as I follow Him.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Treat yo' self!

Even though the day is almost over, happy Sunday to everyone!  It's been a gloomy weekend, full of clouds of rain, but nonetheless, a very pleasant one (even if it has been filled with reading and homework).  Kim and I were finally able to have a "treat yo' self" day of sorts on Friday night, enjoying a couple of milkshakes at a diner called The Original in downtown Berkeley.  They were delicious and a very welcome way to end another busy week of school.

We spent the majority of Saturday at the Starbucks downtown.  I've been trying desperately to catch up on reading I need to do before the last official day of classes on December 2.  I can proudly say that I'm making a dent in my workload (even if it's only a small one).  The trip home was certainly an interesting one... anyone that lives in Berkeley knows that often times public transit is the easiest way to get around town and of course, that was our preferred method of getting back home from downtown.  Our driver however must have been a little out of sorts.  He missed a stop, went too far, turned on the wrong street, just about every mishap imaginable, until one of the passengers started yelling directions to the driver from the back of the bus.  Thankfully, we made it to our stop in one piece and got home just in time to let in the AT&T tech that was to fix our Internet connection.

Today has been a relatively calm one.  I started the day with a phone call from Chuy.  I have to say that being able to hear his voice was definitely worth being woken up at 7:30AM!  Kim and I were able to attend the 9:30AM mass at Newman Hall.  My main take-away point from the service was that I need to take advantage of my "waiting time," that is, the time I have on this earth, not only before my death, but before the return of the Lord.  Just the wake-up call I needed for the motivation problem I've been running up against these last few weeks!  On the way out, I grabbed a card from the Christmas tree that had been set up in the back of the chapel.  A gift item is written on each card and these gifts will be given to families in need who may not necessarily be able to afford the luxury of Christmas gifts.  I've wanted to do something like this for a while so I'm happy to have an opportunity to do so.  Other than that, the day has been spent reading for classes.  Not necessarily an enjoyable pastime but certainly a necessary one.  It'll be a relief to be done with the semester!  How many days until Christmas break?

Friday, November 4, 2011

We are all a little weird

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."
- Dr. Seuss