2017 was a good year for me.

In February I met my friend Laurie, and we’ve been regular buddies ever since.

In April I said YES to the love of my life at Sunset Point in Arizona. <3

In July I started getting really serious about reconnecting more with my faith.

In October, my fiance moved to Illinois to be with me, and so we can start hashing out the details of the wedding, and obviously, to start our life together.

In December, I have gotten busy with little projects that make me happy, and that I hope to carry into 2018, and hopefully beyond.

This is a general synoptic of what happened during the year.  This year, I focused on decluttering and mental health stigma.  Don’t worry, posts about that will continue in 2018.  Also, I reconnected with my faith.  It is so important to me, that it is worth mentioning twice.  I have even been going to church somewhat regularly. *gasp*  With the exception of bad days.  In 2018, I am planning to be a bit more regular in posting, although I hold no promises.

 

Clearly, I made an effort in 2017 to write more in my blog, and to reconnect more with my faith, also, I seem to have an obsession with clutter because I struggle with that.  In 2018, there will probably be more of the same, because I enjoy talking about these things, but being that 2018 is the year I will get married, there will probably be some talk about the typical bride stuff:  losing weight (hey, I somewhat impulsively got my dream dress in my size at the time for a very good price, and then I went ahead and gained weight… pretty smart if you ask me… not!), planning a wedding, and “the jitters” (although for some reason I don’t see myself getting them, who knows, right?).

What else am I going to do in the new year?  pay off my credit card debt and save up some money.

 

It is no secret that I am into crafting, making, and creating, even though I don’t normally post about it.  I mean, it’s in my bio, last time I checked.  I received a Cricut machine for Christmas from my lovely fiance.  Not just any Cricut, but the Maker. *faints*

I’m so excited about it!  For several reasons.  1) I had been wanting one.  2) It came from my adorable fiance. 3) Did I mention I had been wanting one? 4) I swear up and down that I will be able to make so much stuff with it!  Can hardly wait!

I am still learning how to use it, as I have 0 experience with the Cricut or any machine of its type.  I have been able to make a few things here and there, including the birthday card and envelope for my fiance’s birthday.

I’m just beyond excited. 🙂

The mental – physical connection in well-being is becoming overwhelmingly undeniable.  The more tired we physically are, the more mentally drained we feel.  The more stressed out we are, the more likely we are to indulge in unhelpful coping behaviors.  If you have a physical illness, it is likely to affect your mind.  If you have a mental illness, it can have some ravaging effects in your body.  Same little connections seem to exist between self-care and clutter (except inversely).  The more you practice self-care, the less clutter you’re likely to have.  The more clutter you have, the less likely you are to practice self-care.

I started writing this post and started reflecting on how much I have been preaching about getting rid of clutter, and not actually doing it for myself.  Preaching without practicing.  Theory without experiment.  And the thing is, I get it.  I totally get it.  It can be stressful in and of itself to declutter.  I know sometimes the word declutter conjures images of sitting in an empty room with nothing to do (this for some reason scares me).

But this is what I did:

  1. I started with little increments of 15 – 20 minutes of decluttering.
  2. Even if I wasn’t decluttering, if I came across something that I didn’t use or like, I would put it in the “check” pile.
  3. The “check” pile was to check if it was trash or donate, to be done in one of those 15 – 20 minute increments.
  4. For the last haul, the part that no matter how many increments of 15 or 20 or 45 minutes I dedicated to, I enlisted the help of a friend, to help keep me on track.  My friend was in charge of putting away stuff that I know for sure I want/need, and I was in charge of throwing out the stuff I don’t want.

In the end, I have a much more manageable room, even though I still need to pare down more stuff, and even though I stressed myself to the max, I can relax in a neater space, where I can take care of myself without having to worry about how to rearrange the piles of stuff.  With the mental load of the clutter gone, I can dedicate time to other more amenable things.

Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which in my case, brings sweet memories of local pilgrimage to the Minor Basilica in Monterrey, Mexico, where with the matachines we would walk a couple of miles into her Basilica, singing beautiful hymns dedicated to her, sometimes, I would complete several of these mini pilgrimages in one season, going with my school, then with my family, then with friends.  Outside of the temple, the matachines would dance, and there would be dozens of places that would sell food, traditional candies, candy canes, etc.

Someday, I wish to go back, but for now, the memories will do.

20171202_203058.jpgOur Lady of Guadalupe probably knew Juan Diego was a man of obedience.  She appeared to Juan Diego (native name Cuauhtlatoatzin), while on his way to learn more about the Catholic Faith, and asked this humble man to request the Bishop that a temple be built in her name.  He was obedient, and Our Lady impressed her image in his tilma (a kind of apron) to show the world that she meant business, after she instructed him to gather roses from a specific place.  His tilma still is displayed at the Basilica of Guadalupe at Tepeyac in Mexico City.

His feast day is today, December 9th.

What do we have to learn from St. Juan Diego?  Obedience.  This humble man was asked the impossible and through obedience, he pleased Our Lady, which in the end pleases God.  St. Juan Diego had a dying uncle he was taking care of, and put the desires of Our Lady over his uncle – Our Lady healed him.  and when Bishop Juan de Zumarraga wouldn’t believe him that Our Lady had appeared to him, he said to bring proof.  Once again, Juan Diego obeys and asks Our Lady for proof.  And so we have her miraculous image in the tilma, which has been studied scientifically, and has been deemed a miracle.  There is detail in this fibery fabric that would not have been able to be achieved by the techniques and advancements of the era – 1531.

IMG_20171119_132226_914.jpgA propos of my previous blog post, “Praying“, I would like to remind you that Advent begins.  With Advent, we know Christmas is coming, which means we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Much like Lent, Advent is a time to prepare.  Usually, I don’t do much in terms to prepare.  I hang my decorations, I pray my usual prayers a little harder, I do my yearly (local) pilgrimage to an Our Lady of Guadalupe church (because her feast day is always on Advent) and I might click around surfing for better ideas to prepare, but this year, my fiance gave me this book called “Rooted in Hope“.  And I am really excited to say that this little book/prayer book/activity book will be part if my Advent prep this year.

Elizabeth Foss, one of the authors of this book, reminds us that God can do loaves and fishes miracles with our small parcels of time, if only we are willing to offer Him what we have. (Much like I said in my previous post!)

But the authors also challenge us to do more.  It’s the time in which we seem to be busiest, spreading joy and cheer, planning dinners, attending parties, gift shopping, gift wrapping, what-have-you.  So in spite of being already shorter on time, let’s carve out some more time for prayer.

They propose a formula for prayer that Pope Benedict XVI proposes in his Verbum Dominus.  It includes 5 steps: reading (from the Bible), meditation, prayer, contemplation, and action.  These steps follow a logical progression, starting from the Word of the Lord to living the Gospel.

If you haven’t done so already, order the book.  Rooted in Hope from Amazon.  I am really liking what I am reading so far, and I think you can benefit from it, too.  (And no, I am not an affiliate, so I don’t make money off of the link).

 

 

Praying, or “mommy’s quiet time”, has become central to my life and self-care routine.  Even if it is just sitting down and reflecting on my day, or doing a full conscience exam, praying is definitely a helpful tool to me.  Not only do I find it helpful when it comes to quieting my anxious mind, but it is great in grounding myself and moving forward. One day at a time.

praying hands

praying hands

My praying experience

When praying, I am able to reflect on my life as contrasted by the life of Jesus and the saints.  I am able to make my suffering useful by offering it up.  It helps me put the pain in perspective.  I realize that pain is not only part of the human experience – but it is also a part of life.  Even Jesus suffered pain.

Praying and mindfulness

I am able to concentrate on the here and now.  I can’t change the past, and the future is not yet here, so why not concentrate on the here and now.  I can’t make choices about the past – just an examination of conscience – what I did that may be wrong or questionable. But it is not a reason to dwell in the past, it is a reason to move forward, to get a perspective on how to act here and now, and concentrate on just today, because, as cliched as it sounds, tomorrow is not promised.

What bothers me? What makes me happy?  If something bothers me, I am able to share it  with the Lord and put it in perspective.  If something makes me happy, I am able to be grateful about it, and thank the Lord for it as a gift, even if it is through gritting teeth.

Conclusion

I love my prayer time not only because it is mommy’s quiet time, but because it also is a big part of my self-care.