Friday, December 25, 2009

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Merry Christmas to all! Today is Christmas day, a day that I feel like I've been waiting for, for quite some time. It isn't because I was excited about presents or that Christmas is my favorite holiday. (I enjoy it but it isn't...the 4th of July is my favorite holiday haha). I think it has something to do with attending Advent prayer every Sunday night for the past four weeks. There is a heavy focus on "waiting." Waiting for the birth of Christ, waiting to spend some quality time with my family, waiting for a break from work.

Christmas was nice. While my mother kept apologizing for "lack of presents," I worked hard to make sure my family had a great Christmas present wise. "It isn't much dear, I'm sorry," my mother said. I really didn't mind. All I wanted for Christmas was Greys Anatomy Season 5 and I got it. I also got a beautiful dress, some clothes, a nice blanket made for my college graduation, a photo album and a pillow. I am thankful for everything ! Christmas isn't about presents anyway. I'll be sure to reinforce that mindset when my friends call me, bragging about their new Wiis, Iphones, cameras and Blackberries.

Even though I only get $100 a month and am in credit card debt up to my eyeballs, I bought my parents each a DVD, my mom a bottle of Irish Cream and a WWII book. I used the rest of my birthday gift card to get my grandmother a Philadelphia Book (Philadelphia Then and Now) which she loved. No gift could ever bring me as much joy as watching my grandmother immerse herself in that Philadelphia book, recollecting all her fond Philadelphia memories. I finally got her something she will enjoy and cherish.

This Christmas season was reinforced with Advent prayer. I got to enjoy a beautiful December snow. I got to help decorate our house and participate in what felt like multiple Christmases.

The true meaning of the season is God, friends, family and joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spirit of Christmas

I think my four Christmas seasons at College came and went due to finals. Christmas was a blur, a single day to enjoy gifts, God and seafood. (My family has a traditional seafood Christmas dinner). This Christmas is different. While, I really don't think I got into Advent as much as my peers and the Sisters did, I did feel that certain warmth and joy that comes with the season.

Exhibit 1: I've never ever for as long as I can remember, gotten my grandmother something on my own. My family will get her a sweatshirt or a picture frame or a movie each Christmas. It isn't because I don't care, or don't love her. No, it is because she is 86 and she doesn't need/want anything. This year I originally got her a book on WWII, but then my mother had told me she wanted that book. My mother NEVER asks for anything for Christmas. I have no clue what to get her...ever. So I was stunned that she spoke up with interest in the book. I decided to give her the book and find something else for my grandmother. I went to Barnes and Noble and sure enough I found the PERFECT gift. "Philadelphia Then and Now." A book with pictures of Old Philly and present day Philly. I knew she would love this book with all its landmarks of her past. This is something she would read, enjoy and possibly cherish. I decided to use the other half of my Barnes and Noble gift card from my birthday to help pay for the present. The thing is, I didn't even think twice about it. "Christmas is about not being selfish" I thought to myself as I happily handed the remainder of my birthday present over to the cashier. I was too happy to get something my mother wanted AND something my grandmother would actually love.

Exhibit 2: I've been privileged to witness people being kind to others. One day I was in Dollar Tree and the woman in the checkout line behind me was crying. A man gently asked her if she was ok. She said "No...I'm sorry....I just recently lost my mother and this Christmas music is really screwing me up." As it turns out, the cashier lost her mother 10 years ago and she still felt like it was yesterday. AND the man had lost his mother 5 years ago. My friend and I couldn't express empathy but instead, expressed sympathy. My friend said "People who tell you that everything is going to be ok are full of shit." To which the woman started laughing. Then she began to cry some more and said "I'm sorry, this is so embarrassing. Now I'm crying because you all are being so nice to me." She left the store but not after all of us wished her a Happy Holidays. It really was one of those moments you watch in the movies.

Exhibit 3: At work I helped set up a Holiday Door Decorating Contest for the residents. I had seven participants and I asked three Sisters to be the judges. A winner on each floor would win a new watch. The contest was a huge success. Winners were chosen and the Sisters decided they would donate $10 for each contestant who did not win a prize. So everyone won! It was such a touching day. In fact, one of the winning doors had a letter to Santa. The first thing the letter asked for was "A house for Mommy..." Yes, the entire staff got chills. It was the sweetest, most innocent thing ever. I was pleased how everything turned out.

Today I also was given a gift card from a co-worker which is great because I'm broke. AND, another co-worker gave me her prized nativity with the instructions "when you look at this think of me." I wasn't expecting anything, not even the wonderful Christmas cards I've received so far this year.

The generosity is almost abundant. A few days ago I had to unexpectedly work a 12 hour day. I didn't have money for food and I was kind of worried about getting hungry. Another co-worker gave me $10 so I could get something for dinner. There really is something truly magical about the season.

I have also witnessed a 23 year old guy come to a holiday party for our residents, volunteer, and play Santa for the little kids. My friend Sarai bought me a Phillies Santa hat for all the nice things I do for her and with her. Strangers just seem happier and more friendly this time of year.

So in the spirit of Christmas I share this good news with you.

Until next time...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let's take a look back,shall we?



It has been almost four months since I began my adventures with Redeemer Ministry Corps. I endured with joy the honeymoon stage where everything seemed in perfect harmony. Then I fell into reality where life wasn't perfect all of the time but it wasn't bad either. My body had to adjust to waking up early (for me) five days a week and working 8-12 hours a day.

In 3.5 almost 4 months I have changed a lot. The biggest change is physical, for I am now happy to report to the world that I have lost a total of 20lbs. It is starting to really show on the outside. This rapid weight loss is due to working out three days a week and trying to eat somewhat healthy or healthier than I have been in the past. My hair is a lot longer and is almost half light brown and half blond for my roots continue to grow each day.

I think I have grown in flexibility and adaptability. My position at Project Rainbow did not exist until I became a full time volunteer here. Now I'm not sure this facility could operate as well as it does without this position. Notice I say position, not me. In 3.5 to 4 months I now have two fully functioning tutoring programs that the kids really look forward to going to. I have created a fully functioning library that the moms love to visit and check out books and games for their families. I have been given other responsibilities such as setting up and facilitating the monthly birthday parties for the residents. I'm getting better at teaching my social and emotional class for my school aged kids. I've been on top of completing my assessments for kids 5 and under. I think I've gotten the swing of things. I can give you a tour of our facility and sound like I've worked here for over 20 years. :) Looking back, it feels as if I literally fell into this ministry site and was fortunate enough to make all the right choices (for the most part).

I can honestly say that I've prayed more in the past 3.5 to 4 months than I have in the past four years. I'm still working on that aspect of my life even though I have abundant resources to help me out.

I find that going without certain things/people allows you to appreciate them more. Therefore I really miss my family and I am stoked to go home for Christmas! I miss William and Mary more than ever. We lost our semi final game against Villanova the other day. Yesterday was Gaudete Sunday. I kind of felt a little homesick for Williamsburg since CCM puts on a beautiful Gaudete mass. I was lucky enough to go to Mary Mother of the Redeemer for mass yesterday. (I think I've mentioned it before but it is a church 30 min away that I really enjoy).

Our community really feels like a family. Sister Alphonse (who I affectionately call Alphie) is my drink/snack buddy. She was also my baseball buddy during the Phillies post season. Sister Kathy Rose is my tv show buddy, we watch Greys Anatomy and House together. Whenever I need a little sunshine I can go to Sister Barbara. She always has the best stories and she is a really good cook too. Speaking of good cooks, Joan has been baking a lot of Christmas cookies lately! I go to Joan when I need a laugh and also when I have something deep and personal I want to share. I connect to Sister Katharina on a deep level too.

Connie and Stephen and I have made an active effort to build our own community. We went ice skating at Penn's Landing on Saturday night. We had a great time even though I was never meant to be on ice. I clung to the wall most of the evening. At one point three Navy guys tried to help me out but I think I was beyond help. Last night Connie and I watched White Christmas. I love that movie since it reminds me of home. My family watches it every Christmas. :)

This weekend (Saturday night actually) Stephen and I also went to a JVC party. We got to meet a lot of the JVC volunteers from the East Coast. I'm glad we got the opportunity to network with more individuals our age. It was a blast and I'm pretty sure we got back home in the wee hours of the morning.

Personally I'm working on my listening skills. I want to talk less and listen more. There is a certain value to conversation. It is a two or four or even seven way street. I need to continually remind myself that it is not a one way street. :)

It has only been 3.5 to 4 months and look how far I've come. There is still much to be explored. Much to be experienced. Much more to be developed and improved within and about myself, my ministry and my life. At times I get frustrated and down on myself because I'm naturally hard on myself but then I get these breaks when I remember all the things I've already overcome. I can't even imagine what the remainder of the volunteer year has in store for me!

Until next time...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mirror Mirror on the Wall....

...what does my future hold, if anything at all?

-corny I know. (and to think I call myself a writer).

Tomorrow I'll be headed to a meeting at the School District of Philadelphia to learn more about the resources we have to improve homeless children's' education. Part of me is like, woah, I've got another meeting at the School District of Philadelphia, I'm a grown up! The other part of me is like woah, the School District of Philadelphia headquarters is right next to the Philadelphia Inquirer building.

What am I going to do as I pass the Inquirer to go to my meeting?

Stare at it. For approx. 15 seconds and sigh.

I really don't understand the point of living in the present. I know it has something to do with realizing what you've got and not what you can attain. The one thing I struggle with the most in this program is figuring out what to do after it. I'm not in a rush to get out of here. If anything, I wish I could sign up for an additional year. I don't really trust anyone to do my job next year as a Youth Advocate yet sources tell me this facility relies on interns and unpaid volunteers to run. Therefore I'll surely be replaced. After all, this non-profit does not have the money to hire me after my work for free year is over.

So I'm trying to prepare myself for what is next. The fun part is, I have no idea! Part of me wants to slink back to journalism and write my ass off while sucking up to corporate America. The good, wholesome, do-gooder part of me wants to find a job that serves people and makes changes for good OR another volunteer position that pays more and allows me to serve people and do good. Journalism and social work are two very different fields. Journalism is kind of a self-gratifying career. Its almost selfish. You write for your readers but your name is highlighted in bold on the byline. Social work is a work for nothing but change lives kind of career. You get paid crap, you put up with crap, you realize that you can't help everyone but you do get an opportunity to change a life or two. How many people can say journalism changed their life?

When I get out of this program I need something that pays enough for me to knock out my bills, live on my own and pay for insurance on my car/self/life. I know I won't be a minute made millionaire but I'd like to not live below the poverty line. Ideally, I've said this before, I'd like to stay in Philly. There is a lot of opportunity here and I really love the area.

Its funny. People tell you that you don't have to have one career your whole life. They say you can write, serve, sing and invest. When you're in my position you have to make all the right moves. I can try to work for another non-profit but that's to get money to get on my feet. If I want to make money to oh, I don't know, buy a dog or a new car, I need to seek a promotion. Promotions come with advanced education. So what would I go back to school for? That is where it gets difficult. I don't even have money to go back to school. If I did, what would I study? I only get one chance until I make enough money to go and study something else for a new career. So it is a one shot kind of thing. If I go to school for social work I could be a case worker, counselor, youth advocate or program director. If I go to school for marketing I could be a marketing professional designing advertisements and stuff. If I just get an MBA I can work in college administration as an admissions advisor or some sort of high up job in college. If I go to school for journalism, I could possibly get hired by a big newspaper such as the Inquirer. The possibilities are endless and that's not always a good thing.

Much like a chess game, I have to plan my first step and hope its the right one. Yet everyone gets on me for constantly thinking about the future. "Make the most of the present!" Ok, but I worry I'll still be clueless in a year and I'll be working for McDonald's with non English speaking individuals. What am I qualified for? How can I make the most impact on the world?

My dream job would involve me being a journalist for a travel magazine. I'd get paid to travel the world and write about it. I'd settle for covering stories about murder, drugs, and political scandals for Philadelphia though.

While I'm at work I sometimes stop and think about the present moment. "Woah, I'm at MY desk. Woah, this is MY workplace. Woah, I have to lead a meeting today or assess a family tomorrow." I realize that this is the real world and I have a lot of responsibility for someone who just graduated college and I LOVE IT.

I suppose every 20 something goes though this phase in life. That is, unless you're in law school, business school or some other graduate school. Then you know what you want to do. I don't think I'm cut out for law school but I am toying with the idea of going to business school. I can't help but feel limited by the unlimited.

All in all work has been fine, its picking up because of the holidays. Community is fine, half my house is sick and I think I've just caught the bug myself. Spiritual life is shaky as usual. Love life is non-existent. I am doing just fine but yes, I miss my family and all my friends very much. I'll be home for Christmas the 23rd-29th. :)

Until next time...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful for Fiber, Alcohol and Family


Dearest friends, it is that time of year again the "Holiday Season." While my time here in PA has brought me many new adventures it has also brought me new experiences. For example, I suffered from a severe bout of homesickness yesterday. It finally sunk in that I would not be spending Thanksgiving with my family. My friends called to see if I would be coming home and I had to break it to them that I wouldn't be. My family thought it would be weird that I wouldn't be home but they were ok with it. Stephen's family were coming down to visit and Connie was going to work all day so it was going to be me...
Well me and the whole community. I started off the morning rocking my red dress with a black shirt over it making it a red skirt. Then I wore calf high boots and my grey scarf I recently bought. I looked cute if I do say so myself. At mass I was the second reader which was nice and afterwards I met Stephen's whole family. Then I took my seat with some of my favorite people and enjoyed a spectacular meal.
Afterwards I went to the grocery store and joined the "Oh shit!" shoppers. The "Oh shit!" shoppers are the people that realize they are missing a key ingredient to their Thanksgiving feast and they go "Oh shit! I forgot the cranberry sauce or Oh shit! I forgot the dinner rolls." So they rush to the store and get what they need. Fortunately I was not in the oh shit crowd. I needed to buy snacks for the kids at work that do homework help/club. I also needed baked goods because I owe some people baked goods at work. So then I spent the next two hours sipping on a cold beer and baking a banana loaf, strudel, and pumpkin spice cookies.
After that I went out for a ride with Katharina to find a coffee joint that might be open on Thanksgiving. We couldn't find anything but now I know where the mall is (its so close) AND I kind of saw people wrapping up their thanksgiving dinners through this windows on the drive home. Creepy I know, but it was nice.
Then I went to prayer, ate some food and now I'm here. All in all it was a good day. I did miss home and my family and I can also tell that some of my family is still pissed at me but whatever. I have to work tomorrow but it should only be a half day. Then I'm going to my RMC Director's house to play touch football with her sons and their friends. After that I'm going to enjoy pizza and beer. It should be a good time.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Until next time....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

............


I don't know what to put as my clever title. I don't know what this picture means. I don't know much because I am just so unsure.
Right now my mood is calm and indifferent. I'm not overly happy and I'm not overly sad. I'm not stressed out but I'm not bored. I'm not feeling great but I'm not feeling crappy either. I am a bit tired both emotionally and physically.
I've been trying to spend the past few days re-evaluating my purpose in life. Or rather, trying to remember the signs and steps that got me into this volunteer program. I read my reflections from when I was trying to figure out what ministry site I wanted to be placed in. My initial concerns with working at the transitional housing program in the city were:
1) being so busy that I wouldn't be able to visit the Mother house and the Sisters who I became good friends with
2) being in an unstructured facility where I would have to be my own boss, push forward without waiting for constant pats on the back and be a policy maker
3) working with children/a field I have little to no experience with
4) surviving the commute from hell
Now check this out:
1) I see the sisters every Sunday for mass to the point I kind of feel obligated to go to mass at the Mother house when I'd kind of like to explore other churches too just to get a feel for other parishes in the area.
2) I have a boss who approves everything I do and there is a clear chain of command. I've made some policies and had to enforce some policies and I've been fine.
3) children love me and I have been making it up as I go along
4) the commute is a lot easier than it looked initially. Out of all the volunteers I have probably driven to the most places on my own
So what are my concerns now? I've put my whole heart and soul into my work and I have the positive feedback to show for it. Even though I worked 170.25 hours last month and this week I'm pulling two late nights one of which will be a 12 hour day... I just don't know. I've been told I'm doing great things and making the Sisters proud. I get compliments, praise and feedback about the programs I've instituted. However, I still find myself trying to figure out why I am here. Why am I here? What is the overall purpose? After this program I'm going to be broke and have to crawl back to the Eastern Shore with nothing to show for myself except a drained savings account and a year of experience. I'm three months in and I can't decide if I want to try to do journalism still or stick to a social service field. I love what I do even if at times my work kicks all the spirit and drive out of me.
Which I guess is what is happening now. I kind of sad a negative comment about the new campaign the health care system is putting in place. See, the health care system is going to change the computer wallpaper on all our office computers to their flyer with the new brand slogan. Initially I was angered by this. My background is my dog who when I'm sad I stare at for a few minutes. I didn't like the "force" aspect of it. So I said a few negative things about it to a few people. One of those people was my bosses boss who pretty much verbally bitch slapped me and reminded me of my place in the world. She put me in my place. I deserved it. However this woman has never said a negative thing (and meant it) about me or to my face. This was the first time and I realized how childish I was being. How else are you going to get everyone recognize the new brand? Not everyone will check their e-mails or read fliers posted around the building. Make the brand every one's new computer background and they will be forced to know what is going on. Besides, I wouldn't have a computer if it wasn't for the health care system.
So I suffered a personal downfall. I was unprofessional in a moment and I haven't recovered since. The normal person would bounce back and continue their work with the same passion and spirit. Me? I'm keeping my opinions...ALL my opinions to myself. My coworkers have already noticed that I'm quieter. But that isn't me.
I find that I'm highly emotional about everything. I'm angry more, I'm irritable more, I'm sad more, I cry over stupid things, I'm stressed easily. I think that since I started back on birth control pills I've been hormonal and emotional. It feels like circumstances that shouldn't bother me instead really upset me. I should just let everything roll off my shoulders but I let it bother me and then take those negative feelings and point them towards myself. "Why didn't I think of that solution? Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut? Why am I complaining about something so small and irrelevant?"
I don't know.
It is like my tiredness and stress is all self induced. My emotions are just self abuse and I can't explain it. Right now I'm content with being opinion less and quiet and docile.
I also have noticed that the lack of diversity in the new campaign has me on edge. I want to supply the marketing department with positive feedback and constructive criticism. Yet, who am I but an unpaid volunteer who is here for a year. I should be the "yes man" and not the little ball of fire that I'm turning into. My mouth is going to get me in trouble again but now I have a reasonable concern. I'm at a crossroads and I should probably just follow the roadsigns, keep my eyes on my work and keep my mouth shut.
Sigh.
Until next time....
--At least I get to go to a Philadelphia Flyers game on Saturday and I get to sit in the 'all you can eat' section. Hopefully I won't destroy my diet and all the painstaking efforts I've been making.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am My Own Punching Bag

I am my own punching bag. Apparently.

Work has been presenting me with some difficult situations that involve delegation and standing up for myself. There is this new program that some co-workers want me to start but they also expect me to run it too. I'm feeling stretched out sometimes like these people don't realize I am a full time volunteer. After one situation I spent the morning planning on how to defend myself from having to put in way more hours than I'm expected to. I did this instead of trying to find a solution to the problem which was: work with what you have and go from there. No, I'm too busy preparing a defense of how I'm not superwoman and instead I missed the most logical, practical, in your face solution. Additionally, I have spent all my time bitching about this new program instead of taking it for the team and trying to find the positive aspects of it. Therefore I come off as a bitchy, whiny maggot who crumbles under pressure and can't think for herself.

At least that is my self image. I have been told I beat myself up too much and my expectations for myself are so high that my stress is self induced. It is true. I noticed yesterday that I've gained 1 to 2 pounds. This could be due to the party I went to Saturday night where I drank a good amount and ate Philadelphia pizza at 3am. I was hard on myself for that too. I began scolding myself for letting myself go for a night. I have to really restrict my drinking when I go out. Its not a matter of getting drunk or stopping my alcohol intake. It all comes down to the calories. Alcohol is unnecessary calories. I began to continue me "no one will ever love you, you fat blob" mentality. Yes, self insulting is my motivation. I said before and I'll say it again, I can not lose weight for me. I'm pretty happy with the way I look and feel. I'm lazy about it too. But if my motivation is that I'm an invisible fat blob that guys accidentally bump into to get where they are going...then I'm motivated to work out and become visible and beautiful.

Unhealthy yes. Effective? yes. I'm my own punching bag. Yes.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Partly Cloudy

I wrote a facebook life update about the past month or so. After reading it, I realized that it is so incredibly happy go lucky and positive that it is almost not realistic. While yes, I've been doing pretty well at work and at home and in life in general, but there have been some struggles too.

Yesterday I had to be at work at 8am because Stephen has to be in work early to help our nurses. I came into work not feeling my best and knowing it would be a very long day. I was right. I did a developmental assessment in the morning and ran around like crazy throughout the day. I even had a "working lunch" where I worked and ate at the same time. I went to a really long staff meeting and then had to get ready to teach my class about emotions at 4pm. It was 3:45 and for some reason I had it in my head that I would start teaching at 4:30. I played a game of solitaire to calm my nerves only to remember at 4:15 that my class was supposed to start at 4pm! So I rushed over, late, to start my class. It could have went a lot better... I'm wondering if I'm even cut out to work with kids.

I get off work after 9 straight hours (including my working lunch) to go to a casual mass with the sisters at the Mother House. Apparently its "tradition" and we're "required" to attend. If it were any other day I'd be more than happy to attend but today I was dead on my feet. I pulled almost 9 hours on Monday too. So we drive to the service and while it was casual and wonderful, I couldn't really get into it. So I'm worried about the lack of balance in my life. I've got work pretty much under control, I'm trying to take care of myself by working out so I can lose the weight and eating healthy, I'm trying to be available to my community and I'm trying to maintain a consistent spiritual life.

Despite my efforts I feel like my spiritual life is going down the tubes because I'm so self absorbed. My diet/exercise is working but my work outs 3 days a week pulls me away from the community. Monitoring what I eat every day is like a full time job. Have you ever been consciously aware of everything you put into your mouth??? Its exhausting. I used to just eat and not care. Now I have to monitor calorie counts, carbs, fat intake, sugar intake, and drink a lot of water. I feel like I have work under control but this week has been crazy and I'm just so exhausted when I get home I want to go to bed early. Lack of balance. Where is God in my work? Why am I so self absorbed? Additionally I use a self-defeatist attitude in order to motivate myself to exercise. Instead of a positive approach like "this is great for my body, I'm being healthy." I say to myself "no one will even consider you attractive until you lose this weight. Right now you are an invisible blob that any decent guy would overlook in a second." Horrible, I know. Despite my negative approach, it really does push me to continue my diet and exercise and feel good about it. This is the longest I have ever stuck to a diet/exercise routine. I'm coming up on week 3. I'm at a standstill with a 6lb loss. My scale lies to me each morning saying I've lost 8-12lbs and then at night tells me I'm back up to where I started. Its all relative, I shouldn't weight myself daily, its water weight...etc. I know all this but I need to see progress in order to believe it is working. If I don't see any progress I will give up and just accept a permanent single fat lifestyle.

I also feel like I'm on the brink of some huge discovery or life changing event that is positive. Have you ever gotten the feeling that something is going to happen and you just don't know when? I feel that way now even if its just some kind of emotional bullshit. My emotions are pretty maxed out right now. My hormones are out of whack and my mind is racing with new discoveries and nostalgia for old ones. Additionally I'm still anxious about the future. I kind of qualify for Youth Advocate positions and I'm pretty sure I want to stay in the Philly area. I love living so close to a city and I really love working in the city. Yes, I don't need to worry about the future today but it is good to get the ball rolling.

So over all I'm exhausted emotionally, physically and it appears spiritually. I'm surviving, enjoying life, enjoying work even when it kicks my ass and wondering if life changing events and discoveries are in my future or if its just wishful thinking. The nostalgia is killing me, like a drill bit driving itself through my heart, but I'm working through it. My grandmother is back to 100% and my community is getting closer with each other every day. I even had a heart to heart with Stephen in the car this morning about relationships (which could explain my nostalgia). One really good thing is that the Phillies are still rocking the Post Season and I love living in the home city of my favorite baseball team. I have an unhealthy obsession with Shane Victorino but it just translate to a lot of support for him and the team. My room is starting to look like Fever Pitch Phillies style with enough Phillies newspaper clippings to make you think its a new wallpaper. I'm obsessed.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

5 lbs to Freedom


It has been 1.5 weeks since I started my diet. I have cut out just about all white breads, soda, most candies/cookies/sweets, and things that could be fattening. I have not become a counting calorie individual but rather a calorie aware individual. I'm trying to always be aware what is going into my mouth/stomach. I have learned the following:

I can't believe its not butter spread 50 cal and 50 cal from fat. IT IS ALL FAT! Stupid "healthy" butter.....

Mayonnaise...we know its not good for you...90 cal and its 90 cal from fat. IT IS ALL FAT TOO! So you might just as well spread a bottle of lard onto your sandwich.

You burn calories sitting, eating, showering, sleeping, talking and typing! Its not a lot, but yes, you do burn calories while doing these activities.

8 glasses of water a day goes a long way!

This is pretty much all I have learned the past week and a half. In good news, I have officially lost 5 lbs. According to the doctor, I have to lose 50lbs...well...45 more to go. If I could lose 5 lbs every two weeks I could lose the weight in 9 weeks!

Utopian thought.

Anyway I've been working out three days a week, watching what I eat, and trying not to feel guilty if I enjoy a spoon of ice cream or a square of chocolate. I hate how this is a lifestyle choice and a life sentence. I don't know if I have the energy to be calorie conscious..I mean aware...for the rest of my life. I'm pretty sure I've developed a disorder already. haha For example, I had two hot dogs today PLUS my lunch. My boss made everyone hot dogs to celebrate the post season opener for the Phillies today. I LOVE hot dogs. They are pretty much my fav food ever. So I had two, one with a bun and one without and then my little bagel sandwiches, carrot sticks, yogurt..etc. I'm regretting that second hot dog now. I am trying to figure out a good way I can work out to get rid of the extra calories!

That is borderline obsessed. See? I'm developing a disorder. A healthy one of course.

Until next time....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Life Updates are Always Good



Life Updates are Always Good. My last post was one of self pity about halfway through September. Yes, I got news I had to lose 50lbs to not die. Well life got worse as the weeks went on. Two weeks ago my grandmother suffered a TIA, it is a mini stroke. She was mixing up her words and speaking nonsense. It scared the hell out of me. Saturday night I was having a friend over for a "girls night" with Connie at our house. I'm driving home from the grocery store and I call my mom to tell her about my super sweet bargains. My mom tries to work the news into the conversation but ultimately my dad interrupts and says "Mom Mom is in the hospital."

It takes everything in me not to pull a U-turn on the Pike and drive down to Cape May at that moment.

After they explained the situation to me about 100 times, I understood my grandmother was on the phone with my Aunt and started speaking gibberish. My Aunt and Uncles rushed to her house and called 911. She was put in the ER but released the same day. My mom was then scheduled to drive up to South Jersey on Sunday. It was really difficult but I eventually convinced my family to let me see my grandmother on Sunday as well. I was borrowing a GPS at the time and Connie and Stephen have their own cars if they needed to go anywhere. Originally my family did not want me to go. I'd be in the way, there was nothing I could do...etc. After persistence I managed to convince my mom that yes, I was going to see my grandmother on Sunday because she might not know who I am next week. Connie and Stephen decided to accompany me on this journey so we drove 2 hours to South Jersey on a Sunday afternoon for a 40 min visit with my grandmother. Then we drove 2 hours back. I have good friends.

Seeing her was hard but I felt so much better. My mom planned to stay with her during the week and the family had to figure out arrangements for her if necessary. It was crazy. Then it gets worse. By Weds I noticed that I had 7 active cysts with 1 draining. I began to get concerned so I went to the doctor. The doctor gave me an appointment for the same day. This was good and bad. It was good because I didn't have to wait until mid October but it was bad because it was scheduled during community night, the one night a week that we're all supposed to eat and do an activity together. Plus having a dr appt scheduled for the same day you call makes it seem like an emergency so I had to explain why I was going to the doctor to all my community members.

I have a condition that causes lesions not cysts. It is kind of a side condition of PCOS which I also have. The doctor prescribed weight loss. No, not medicine. Weight loss. I was told the symptoms would virtually disappear if I lost weight. I had to start by eating right and work up to exercise since sweat would irritate the lesions. She also ordered some kind of iodine based scrub to keep the lesions clean.

Weight loss. Are you effing kidding me? No pills to help a diet..nothing. I was told to limit dairy and cut carbs as much as possible. I'm a bread eating fiend so this was like the worst life sentence one could ask for.

After all of that I was overwhelmed and depressed. I didn't have time to exercise. I paid $20 to have a Dr tell me to lose weight which is what all health care officials seem to be telling me lately for various reasons. I fell into a serious slump. I began to hate life and work and everything. I was irritable because I felt I had to eat cardboard basically and nothing else. I felt ugly, unwanted and self pitied every day. Fat. Ugly. Loser.

This combined with the incident with my grandmother made me so tired I could barely function. That weekend I had to work the Sister's Oktoberfest ALL WEEKEND. We're talking 12pm-7pm Sat and 9:30am-7:30pm Sun. Sure we got free food, free beer and breaks but it was a lot of work. I just wanted to go to sleep! After an overwhelming week that was not what I needed. So I didn't get to recover this weekend.

On Monday (this past Monday) I finally made it to the gym. I ate dinner and skipped evening prayer so I could work out a little bit. After the gym I was so exhausted I just wanted to crash and never wake up. I felt good that I finally got to exercise but I was still tired from the past week and the weekend. That night I lit some candles and just prayed about all the shit in my life. From my lost name tag to my tiredness. I asked for strength and confidence in myself.

On Tuesday I woke up feeling slightly refreshed. A co-worker found my nametag in a closet I was working in. I began to become adjusted to my diet and learning that I could have cookies once and awhile. My body was still physically drained but my spirit was renewed at least. I was rewarded with the most unsuspecting surprise. FREE PHILLIES GAME TIX! Our friends from Mercy Volunteer Corps scored 3 free Phillies game tickets and gave them to me, Connie and Stephen! I found this out about halfway through the day. I was planning on going out to the store to get groceries since I had to cook Weds night. Well that plan was botched because Phillies trump everything.

I hurried to get my work done, raced home, changed into my Phillies gear, ate a quick sandwich and drove to the Mercy's to get the tickets. We had a great time. The Phills beat the Astros 7-4! I got my first baseball game beer and the hot dog was as good as ever. I even bought a $5 Nat League East Division Champs shirt from 08. The stadium gave us rally towels too. It was such a good night.

Exhausted on Weds, I woke up and went to work. I left at 4 so I could pick up the groceries and have dinner ready by 6pm. And that I did! I felt like a supermom or something. I was running on fumes but I had a delightful dinner ready all by myself. Pork chops, peas, asparagus, potatoes and cinnamon strudel for dessert. The game and prayer/reflection went well too. So A+ on leading my first community night. I ironed and de-linted my shirt, made my lunch, showered and was in bed by 10:30am.

I woke up early this morning with the hopes I could play a radio contest. The winner gets $100,000 and 2 Priuses. I couldn't get through but on my way to work I fantasized as to what I'd do with $100,000. I'd pay off my loans, give my parents a lot so we wouldn't have a mortgage anymore, pay off my bills, give some to my grandmother, then buy an Iphone, get my hair professionally colored and put the rest in savings so after a year I could get an apartment and have a car ready to go. Yeah..right...like that would ever happen. It was fun to daydream on the commute though.

So here I sit, running on E. I'm exhausted physically but my spirit is strong and my attitude is positive. I'm going to the gym directly after work today. Got the gym bag in the trunk. I'm being proactive with my weight loss plan. I'm constantly aware of what kinds of food goes into my mouth. I don't stalk calories but I try for health(ier) options whenever possible. My coworkers had McDonalds today and it almost killed me to smell it as I ate my peanut butter and fluff sandwich (which was a good treat), carrot sticks, sun chips and yogurt. I've been eating 45 cal a slice soft wheat bread and avoiding dairy for the most part. I don't eat biscuits or cookies or crackers as much. I avoid snack crackers and instead opt for fruit or veggies. I was told I could eat all the meat and vegs and fruit I want. I'm craving meat right now, haha. I think I'm going to make it though the week and I have a pretty restful weekend planned. I'm trying to get out to a club on Sat night to see Jason Derulo perform, but that may or may not happen. My grandmother has just about fully recovered. I feel great about myself as I strive for improvement. Life is beautiful.

Until next time...

Friday, September 18, 2009

50lbs

Yesterday I went to the hospital's gym for my gym orientation. As a facility supervisor and fitness instructor of a college gym, I already knew how to work most of the equipment so I spared the trainer that agony of explaining how you can increase the incline on a treadmill. What I did need help with was the weights. They have a significantly older Cybex weight system which is almost intimidating. Even though I knew the general mechanism of a rear dealt fly and a back extension, I needed a brief tutorial on how to work these aged machines. They work great, I just need to adjust to them.

Now, I'm known for being a very open person. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don't hold back. I will now discuss a topic of sensitive concern to me.

Yesterday I went to the hospital's gym for my gym orientation. I received my fitness assessment from late August. It told me my strength was above average for a girl my age. That is great. It also told me that I have 40% body fat when I should have at max 24%. Additionally I need to lose 48lbs of FAT. I weighed myself this morning and found out that that I now have to lose 50lbs of FAT. I have GAINED weight.

I'm really not in a position where I can hit the gym three days a week and eat three well balanced meals while drinking 8 glasses of water. My job is relatively fast paced, a typical 9-5 M-F. By the end of the day I'm hungry because I take lunch at around 12pm and I'm tired. I have just enough time to eat a quick dinner, get a shower, make my lunch for the next day, choose my outfit for the next day and check my e-mail before it is time for me to go to bed so I can get enough sleep to function. It is exhausting. It also makes me miss school.

Of course we do things like go out to restaurants occasionally and eat cookies and ice cream. I really need to stop all that. I am also limiting myself to a half a mug of coffee with no creamer until I can ween myself off coffee completely. Coffee is horrible for you. As is soda and beer.

I really don't think skinny people have any fun. Honestly though, if I ever want a man or to avoid diabetes I need to start now. The older I get the harder it is going to get to lose weight. Soon I'll just be one of those really obese people who no one really wants to look at.

The problem is time and scheduling. For example, today I got up at 7:40 and was out the door by 8:05. I usually bring my breakfast with me because I can't eat really early in the morning. Well I'll eat my breakfast at about 10 or 10:30am. Lunch around 12 or 12:30pm then I have to drive a co-worker to the Phila airport after work. That trip plus the trip back to my house is going to get me home at around 7 or so. I'm going to be tired and starving. So naturally I'm going to want to eat a quick fix meal which is unhealthy in large quantities.

I foresee myself becoming more irritable and I limit my food intake, exercise daily and hate myself. haha

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Becoming a Young Professional


Greetings! So life has been quite peachy. I'm adjusting just fine to just about everything. This holiday weekend I got to meet up with other volunteers in the Philly area and we even went out for a night on the town. Basically we went to a bar called the Tattooed Mom, decorated ears of corn to make them look like little people and enjoyed $1 16oz Pabst throughout the evening. Yes, it was classic. All of this took place on Philly's South Street which is known for many things. The Tattooed Mom was unlike anything I've ever seen. The first floor was chic and eclectic and the second floor was covered in graffiti and crazy decorations. It was a really nice place and I want to go back there some time.


Anyway, I'm currently becoming a young professional. I'm learning how to guide my own projects, make my own packets, and really pioneer programs. There are moments where I'm sitting at my desk in my office going 'wow....I'm grown up.' I know that sounds stupid but it feels weird having a 40 min commute to work, having an office and a desk, having responsibilities which span beyond answering phones, cleaning weight equipment and serving food. I mean sure, I've been a newspaper reporter but I think that all my jobs involved my boss telling me a set task, me completing it, and then getting a new one. My jobs either had a set schedule which was the same thing every day or I received new tasks to complete.

I kind of get new tasks and sort of have a set schedule. For the most part I guide my own way. Like I just finished e-mailing local college and university service organizations to get volunteers for our homework helper program. Later today I have a staff meeting where I have to present my system for lending out Leapfrog Learning toys. I mean really, this is the real world.


I'm continuing to fall in love with Philly. My heart is really starting to latch on to it and all its ghetto fabulousness. Last night my best friend asked me when I'd be coming back home to visit. I told her I would probably spend Thanksgiving up here and that I'd be home for Christmas. I really didn't mean to say it but I told her I don't want to go home. I'm so happy here. My biggest fear is that this is so temporary. I mean in a year I'm back to square one with nothing but experience to show for it. I'm hoping I can find a way to stay here. To have a job which makes a difference, live by a city which has so much culture to offer, and enjoy the company of new people is all I could ask for. I think a big part of it though is that I don't have 'real world' responsibilities such as rent, bills, food..etc. That is all taken care of. So, I'm spoiled and I live in a distorted reality.


But I still want to stay here even if I have to work multiple jobs and live in a crack house in a year.


Sad. I know. I'm getting just enough city to love it and just enough suburb to feel safe. Its the perfect combination. Anyway I should probably get back to work. I'd give it about two weeks before the Health Care System realizes that they have a blog which has not been blocked. (The health care system blocks everything from facebook to gmail and random sites in between. It is kind of annoying). Back to work, lots of meetings today.


Until next time...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday To Meeee

22 years on this Earth and I can tell you it has been a rocky and crazy road. Today was a really special birthday. (I'm writing this on the 25th but just pretend it is the 24th).

I woke up to having french toast made for me by my two fellow volunteer friends. They made me a special birthday breakfast. Then I started my first day of work, meeting new people and learning about my job. I have an office! How about that. It feels so weird being in the real world with offices and work and no class or parties.

Oh, backing up a bit, Sunday was really special. We had our Missioning Liturgy and it was awesome! We were congratulated and welcomed into the whole Redeemer community. We had to give mission statements to the congregation and everything. I loved it! We got special blessed crosses and candles. It was a day full of memories.

Now, fast forward to Monday. So I went to work and left around 4:30. I came home and my community made me my favorite dinner as a surprise! (Hot dogs, mac and cheese from the box and baked beans). Then we had zucchini bread cake for dessert because I really enjoyed it during orientation. My community gave me this funny Charlie Brown card and signed it and even labeled each other on it. I'm Snoopy haha. They also gave me a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Then Connie and Stephen gave me a fitted Phillies hat which I wear as I type this. I have wanted one of those hats forever and now I finally have one!!! I love it and it was a real surprise.

Then we had prayer which was dedicated to me and my birthday. I've never had that happen before! Oh and the night before one of the Sisters put a bouquet of flowers on my desk! It was a wonderful birthday and I'll never forget it.

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Today (for real this time) we stayed at work until 6pm. I made the daring attempt to drive us to work in the city and succeeded. Then we had to drove Leah back to the train station (she is the volunteer from last year who came in to help Stephen with his stuff). So yeah...I'm a bad ass. I drove through the city IN the city and on the interstate! It was crazy, scary, fun and quite the adventure. We made it back in one piece and now that I've conquered that I think I can conquer anything!

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So now we're just chilling at the Motherhouse and playing piano. I'm ready to go back soon because I have laundry to do and lunch to make. Its weird being a grown up. haha

Until next time....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Whirlwind of Happiness

How in the world do I sum up the past week for you in this blog? I don't think it is possible so I'll try to hit the high points as best I can. I know a lot of people have been wondering if I was still alive but honestly I've been so busy with orientation, moving in, and transitioning that I haven't had a chance to update anything. On top of that, the computer in our community isn't set up yet so I have to find creative ways to get on computers. Connie has one I use sometimes, the Sisters Mother House has one. Usually I can only get on for small periods of time. I write to you now from a hospital. Yes, a hospital. I live about two buildings over and they have a 24 hr computer lab. So I can spend as much time in here as I want.

Ok, let me find a starting point. Well, I arrived on Sunday and it was pretty fast paced day. My aunt, uncle and cousins had lunch at the Mother house and we got a really warm welcome. It was really nice. Turns out one of the Sisters knows my uncle and she leaped from her chair to greet him. She used to teach with him. So that was a nice surprise for her. After lunch I went back to my home and unpacked a bit. Eileen went over some brief expectations and get to know you questions. Then the four of us (me, Connie, Stephen, and Eileen) made Stromboli for our community. It turned out all right and it was a fun time eating dinner with so many people. I fell fast asleep that night from exhaustion.

Throughout this week has been my RMC orientation. It has been busy, fun, and action packed. I've met almost all the Sisters, learned the history of the Sisters, learned about the health care system, learned about my fellow volunteers (life stories) Yes, mine was drama filled. We've shared meals, I've drank wine at a Bishop's 90th birthday party, we've watched movies. It has been a lot of fun. Never a dull moment, really.

Today me, Connie and Stephen went into the city. We saw the Liberty bell, Independence hall, the Franklin park, the DE river and various downtown shops. We took a train in, explored and than took a train out. We met a woman at the train station who was lost and needed a ride so we drove her to her bus station (after getting lost ourselves a few times). It was a great day.

I live with four Sisters and one Resident Associate (lives, prays with Sisters but doesn't take vows). On the first floor of my convent (which is basically a big house..no Sister Act bars on the windows) is me, Stephen and Connie's room. I share a bathroom with Connie. Then there is a huge living room and dining room, back porch, community room, kitchen, several other bathrooms, the Sister's office and a chapel which is right next to my room. On the second floor is our computer room and the Sisters' bedrooms. It is a really nice place. Our RMC car is a Ford Focus much like my own but it is newer and it likes me. We share the car but I'm in it 5 days a week since I have the longest commute to work. Eileen has already taken us out for water ice and mini golfing which has been a lot of fun!.

Let's talk about work again. My ministry site, my site of service, whatever you want to call it. On Tuesday I met with my site supervisor, Beth. I learned that I'm going to be running the Head Start program, assisting with the Homework Helper program, assisting with the Big Bros Big Sis program, making sure the kids get vouchers for uniforms (all pub schools in Philly wear uniforms). Then I am going to work with the Homeless Children's Initiative and I already have a meeting scheduled next week. I'm also meeting with the counselor from the local school. I also have a room that I have to re-arrange for mothers and their children for meetings with me and stuff. It is intense, a lot of responsibility and I am eager to get started! My first day is Monday, my birthday (which is going to be a great day from what I hear). Everyone wants to wish me a happy birthday and there will be ice cream. I'm happy. haha Everyone keeps mentioning my birthday which really means a lot to me. But on Mondays and Fridays I drive to work without Stephen. Thank God his orientation to work is also on Monday so I don't have to drive on my birthday. Ugh I would hate to do that. (Not live to see 22).

I feel really at home here. I'm so happy and I know the year is just starting but I don't want it to end. I love the balance in my life (yeah it is the honeymoon stage but I can relish it, right?) I mean, I have God, Sisters and my fellow volunteers. We're all connecting really well (granted it is the baby stages of forming a community). I just find myself realizing how lucky I am to be in this position. I don't have to worry about rent, insurance, my loans and other crap. I can maintain a relationship with God daily. I'm making new friends left and right. I'm having new experiences. I'm going to be getting my hands dirty in a career path that is kind of unexpected for me. (I'm already thinking about getting my masters of social work at UPenn maybe.) This is just a great set-up with people who accept you for who you are and not what you could be or who you're not. I love it. I do miss my friends (especially because they keep calling me and leaving me messages) however I am adjusting just fine here. Life is good!

So tomorrow is our Missioning ceremony/mass. It is basically our initiation. I'm looking forward to it (I still have to make my mission statement). haha Then Monday is the first day! (and my birthday of course).

I think that hits the high points. I'll be more specific later. I'm just having a great time transitioning and it feels like home here. I'll update on my birthday (BIRTHDAY BLOG) goes as well as how work is going.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a Spectacle in All Forms

I didn't get to drive my car for the last time and realize it. The day I was going to do this my dad came in the house holding my tags in his hand. He did me a favor, really, but I was hoping to take one last drive around the old neighborhood. I didn't get to go walking with my mom because she didn't go walking that morning. I also added one more bag to my collection of luggage.

That is all well and good. I got to hang out with Beth and Clay for a bit. It was hard to say goodbye to them. I really feel like this whole week has been nothing but goodbyes. Additionally everyone is playing tug a war on my heart. Everyone wants me to stay but I can't. I did see a funnel cloud outside my house last night. That made my heart race and pound in my chest. A tornado was coming right towards us! Then the wind changed directions and it vanished. It was incredible. I have some good pictures of the little funnel cloud before it went away. My God it was beautiful. Yes, a tornado was beautiful.

Anyway, my parents drove me to Lewes today to meet up with the rest of my family. It really was just about the rest of my family. I was greeted by my grandmother, two of my aunts and four of my cousins. It was a regular Waltons moment. But see, this large gathering attracted a lot of attention to fellow ferry people. So did my bags, which are huge, and purple. On top of these huge purple bags were a huge orange bag and a huge black bag. Everyone kind of stared at me. Then stared at my family. It was funny and kind of crazy at the same time. My mother was cracking slightly harsh jokes. There were about a million "you're going to be a nun" comments thrown about. I was so happy to be surrounded by my family before I start my new life. I was also ready to go. haha Lots of family, lots of attention on me and not the good time, lots of luggage, lots of stares by people = not so happy MA.

We took family photos and had a nice lunch. Then I boarded the ferry which was one of the most difficult tasks in the world. No, it was not difficult because my heart was wrenched out of my chest and my desire to stay with my parents and my best friends beat my desire for a real adventure. No. It was difficult because my two aunts, four cousins and grandmother helped me get my two purple suitcases, one black duffel, one green bag, one orange duffel and one bookbag oh, yeah, and a baby coach basket thing for my grandmother to push...onto the ferry. My 11 yr old cousin tried to tackle one of the heavier suitcases. She was a trooper, I give her that but everyone stared at us. The people behind me were really inconvenienced by me and my bags and my entourage trying to push my bags. I mean really, I held up a line of people with all my crap. People were just amazed that I had so much stuff. I felt so self-conscious. Like when you think everyone is looking at you and talking about you and then you realize wait...they really really are. Ugh.

To make matters worse my family started to realize what a burden my stuff was. Soon everyone thought I over packed and that my bags were really too heavy. Simple living? Right... There was a moment when I was tired, embarrassed, and just kind of annoyed by my lack of packing skills that I wanted to die. haha I'm surprised I made it to NJ.

Now I'm chilling at my Aunt and Uncle's house, watching cable, eating tasty cakes and using their computer to stay connected to the world outside. I feel a bit better but I am so exhausted. I'm ready to just crash and burn right now. I leave for Philly on Sunday and I want my family there but I don't want a big fuss. I love unpacking things so I don't want any help in that department. One of my favorite things is to settle down in a new place. Seriously I love arranging furniture or putting my crap away. Unpacking just puts my mind at ease. So hopefully I'll be able to do that on my own.

So that was my adventure today.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let's Go

On Thursday morning I will get into a car with my parents. Two purple suitcases one giant orange duffel, one small black rolling duffel, one Vera Bradley medicine travel bag and a blue book bag will be placed into the trunk of a Silver Ford Taurus. For two and half hours we will drive to a certain ferry which leads to a certain birthplace of yours truly. After a wholesome lunch with my Aunt, cousins and grandmother, my family will drive that Silver Ford Taurus back home and I will board a certain ferry with the other half of my family.

On Sunday morning I will get up early and pile two purple suitcases, one giant orange duffel, one small black rolling duffel, one Vera Bradley medicine travel bag and a blue book bag into a Dodge Ram van where my Aunt will drive me to my new residence for the next year in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I will unpack said suitcases and bags in my quaint little room in a convent. At 2pm I will report to the start of Orientation where I will be orientated into my new life.

One week and a day after this orientation I will begin my first day of work at a transitional home for homeless mothers and their children. I will either drive or be driven to my workplace in the heart of the ghettos of the city. I will begin a job I have had no direct experience in. I will work with people who will not trust me on sight. I will have to prove myself and that I am capable of making change and adapting to situations on the turn of a dime. I will also be turning 22 on this day.

Tomorrow is my last full day home. My last day home really. In this day I want to drive my car for the last time before turning in my tags and canceling my insurance policy. I want to hang out with my best friends and joke and laugh with them before we go our separate ways. I want to have dinner with my best friend in my home. I want to make sure my dog will not forget me. I want to get up early and walk with my mom at the crack of dawn but it will probably be raining. I want to make sure Sallie Mae will defer my loans for a year because as of now they won't. I want to go over everything in my room and make sure nothing is left behind that I will need. I want to have a memorable and argument free day with my parents. I want to tie up all loose ends in one day including storing my computer in a cool, dry place for it will not be coming with me to Philly.

I've already visited the nursing home I used to work at and said goodbye to residents I've known for years. I've already went to church for the last time and said goodbye to the few parishioners I knew from other outlets. I've already e-mailed friends and family to tell them what I'd be up to for the next year. I've already revamped my Ipod to contain the most eclectic mix it has ever had. Here is a sample of songs on it:
1) Best I Ever Had - Drake
2) Breathe - Taylor Swift
3) They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love - Jars of Clay
4) Ice Cream Paint Job - Tyga
5) Free Bird - Lynard Skynard
6) Better Man - Marty Dread
And various songs from John Legend, the Remember the Titans Soundtrack, Kelly Clarkson, Enya, Chris Daughtry, Beyonce, Rascal Flats and more. You name it, I prolly have it.

I'm incredibly excited for what the next year holds. This whole application process has been a journey and a half. I'm hoping I stay calm, avoid my egotism, and be myself. I am also hoping I don't lose touch with the friends I love. Considering I still talk to my 1st grade teacher on a somewhat quarter annual basis, I doubt I will. I want to stop worrying about what will happen after this year because I will be broke and jobless. I want to stop letting it bother me when all my friends and family are joking because they think I'm going to become a nun just because I'm going to be living and working with nuns. I can't wait to tour the city and meet new people. I just hope I'll have enough time to write about my daily adventures. I know there will be plenty of them.

I'm growing up.

Until next time...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Breakaway

I suppose I'm still in a Kelly Clarkson mood. I keep listening to her song "Already Gone" and "Walk Away." Why? Because both of those titles are going to apply to me in 6 days. That is right 6 days. Everyone wants to hang out with me before I go. My friends want to spend everyday with me until it is time for me to depart. My parents, want me to spend time with them in their own special way. (Me being productive around the house of course). Me? What do I want? I kind of want to just lay down in a dark room and fall asleep to songs about leaving and change and a new life. Its funny, all this time I had been so eager to get the hell off the Shore, start my new real world life in Philly and make new friends and have new adventures. I wrote this poem which reflects my feelings:

I was always focused on the future
Never worrying about the past
Racing through life with no regrets
Never caring as the days went by fast
So set on jumping the cliff
Into adventure and what life could be
Now I find myself skidding to a halt
Trying to catch a final glimpse of the present scenery
Wishing I could put my memories onto a slide show
Just sit down and reminisce
To laugh and cry and relive
All the moments I'll inevitably miss
As I approach the ledge of change
I know that I have to leap
I spent all my time wishing and waiting to go
And now I'm not ready to leave
I'll take one last look behind me
Store the still frame in my heart and soul
I'll breathe in deep and close my eyes
Then step off the ledge to see what the future really holds

Yeah.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totes excited but now I suppose I'm a little bit nervous now too. I'm leaving my best friends in Williamsburg and on the Shore. My dog, yes my DOG doesn't love me anymore. I'm always so in and out of his life that he has been distancing himself from me. And NO, this is not my imagination. I try to sit with him or play with him and he moves away. But he'll cuddle up to my mom and dad in a hot second. My dog is distancing himself from me because I'm so temporary.

Which gets me thinking about the next year and how temporary it is. I mean, it is a year of commitment and a 9-5 and challenges. But it isn't the real world. It is a real world transition. Which is perfect for someone like me who is bound to fall flat on my face in the 'real real world.' I can't help but find myself envying those who have 9-5s which are permanent. Who don't have to re-figure their life out in a year.

The main reason why I made this life changing decision was because I was trusting God with the one aspect of myself I always want control of: my future. I don't want to have doubts going into the program but the past few days have left me feeling spiritually empty and really nostalgic. I'm excited but I am also really sad to leave my friends behind. I'm worried what I'll be doing after a year. This worry didn't occur to me during the application process because I thought 'oh God will provide.' I really don't want to be doubting 6 days before I leave.

What I'm worried about: people not liking me, my job being too challenging for me, me getting off track or lazy and preventing positive change from happening at my job, me losing important yet crazy aspects of myself which make me 'me', not having any options but coming back to the Shore penny-less after the year of service, getting lost on my commute, being coerced into religious life and not being able to fight it haha, losing touch with my best friends thus losing my best friends and becoming increasingly more conservative in my lifestyle.

What I'm excited about: meeting new people,making new impressions, exploring a new career path, making positive change, strengthening my spiritual life, encountering new adventures, working in Philly, making new friends, potentially finding my niche in this field and getting a full time job after my year of service, being on my own sort of, discovering new things about myself and interacting with new cultures.

Equal I suppose. Today as I struggled to pack 'only the things I need' I realized I need more bags. I'm now up to two purple suitcases, one small rolling duffel, one large new jersey tote and a book bag. That's not bad for one year, right? I have work clothes, casual clothes, shoes of both sorts, toiletries, some knickknacks to make my room feel like home, jewelery, make up, essentials. I'm worried I'm bringing too much and I'll get there with my entourage and my 5 bags and everyone will look at me and be like "um...wow you pack a lot." Its always been a problem. I over pack for EVERYTHING. I'm serious. You should have seen what I brought to college my freshman year. Ugh. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up $74 of essentials. Included in the lot was a black dress shirt and yes, my splurge of the day. I am obsessed with Paris Hilton's Heiress fragrance. Like, obsessed. I don't like Paris Hilton and I don't revile in the fact I smell like a baby prostitute but I had to get some. A normal bottle costs $30. A tiny bottle costs $6. So I bought a tiny bottle for special occasions. Sue me. Better yet, hit me over the head with something hard.

In other news I finished reading Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot. Shes the woman who wrote the Princess Diary books. I love the Queen of Babble series. I stupidly started in the middle so I haven't read the first book but I know everything that happens in it. It was a really cute book though. Now I'm reading "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing" by Ted Conover. Holy crap, Conover is my HERO. This guy is a journalist who uses sociological techniques to write his pieces! For example, he wanted to learn more about the prison system so he tried to gain access into the Correctional Officer Academy. They said no. What did he do? He APPLIED to be a correctional officer. So this guy is a correctional officer at Sing Sing prison in New York and he did all this so he could write this book! He's also explored the lives of Mexican coyotes and also train hobos. I'm not gonna lie, after Sing Sing I'm going to read all of his other books. This guy is brilliant and is doing something that I kind of want to do! I want to write a book about the homeless, this guy has done stuff just like it. But seriously, to BECOME a correctional officer to write a book and learn more about the prison system???? Effin GENIUS! I love this guy. He is now on my favorite author list (because his writing is very engaging) and I want to learn more about him. He's basically doing participant observation techniques in the field and applying it to raw hard core journalism.

Not to mention I also have a fascination with prisons and the whole correctional system. ;-)

That is about it for me. A new author fascination and fear and excitement about my new life in 6 days. Sigh.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Life Would Suck Without You


When I woke up around noon yesterday, I had no idea that I'd be spending my evening with my two best friends at the Delaware State Fair watching Kelly Clarkson in concert. Yeah, I had no idea. But Beth called and asked me if we were still going to meet up at 1pm to hang out. Then Clay called and invited me to the concert with Beth. I figured there was no way I could go considering I have $20 to my name right now. I mean concerts are things you plan on going to, not things you just wake up and decide to go to that night. Believe it or not, everything worked out and I was able to go. Clay generously paid my ticket and state fair admission as a graduation present. It was literally the perfect day.

I rushed to pack some things so I could stay with Beth that night, making traveling easier on both of us. First we had to stop by her friend's house because her friend, this nice Korean lady's mom passed away. I knew her kind of on an acquaintance level so this whole setting was a little awkward at first. How do you comfort a grieving person you don't really know? Especially because there was other people at the house as well. So as Beth consoled her friend, I politely stared at the floor. This situation turned around completely when the fellow house guests and friends started talking to me in Beth. Within minutes the conversation became lighthearted and I felt comfortable again. The Korean ladies kept telling me that I was bright, had a vibrant personality and was full of life and that God shines through me. This really meant a lot to me. So I had the Korean ladies laughing and smiling which was fun. It kind of reminded me when the Philippinos came to CCM daily mass and I had them laughing like crazy. I feel like I do really well with cultures other than my one. Perhaps I do better with other cultures!

After this nice visit we went to Clay's where I toured his new kitchen and raided his pantry. We left for Delaware around 3:30 or so. This really felt like a road trip. We listen to Kelly Clarkson all the way up, pausing briefly to listen to some music which is hot in LA right now. We made it up to the fair without a problem and parked in Cow Lot 3. haha Got to love it.

The fair was pretty big. Take our town carnival and times it by about 100. There were your typical rip off attractions "smallest woman in the world, smallest horse in the world." Enough food to feed a third world country including chicken on a stick, corn dogs, turkey legs, and pizza slices the size of your head. Also cotton candy, candy apples, fried oreos, funnel cakes, yeah the works. It took us about a half hour just to choose what to eat. I mean the selection was huge! I settled for .75 20 oz ice tea...yes 75 cent. And a slice of pizza as big as my head. Beth had pizza and fries and clay had a corn dog (mandatory at the fair haha) and a turkey leg which I took awkward pictures of me and Clay eating it at the same time. After dinner we walked around for a bit. Beth said that there were "fresh cows" which came out wrong, but it was amusing. We looked at the livestock and then headed to the track for the Kelly Clarkson Concert.

The first act was Krista, a spunky Avril/Evanescence/white rapper/rocker chick who had some really good stuff. Our seats were decent and we were right in front of a huge screen which showed all the action on stage. Yes, I watched the screen a lot more than the actual performance because it was right there. Anyway after Krista's performance we went to go meet her. Beth and I were first in line and Clay found this amusing since these little girls were in line behind us. Krista signed our free Itunes song card and crawled under the table to take a picture with us. She says "I'm human" as she crawls under the table. We got a cute picture with her and then picked up some home made lemonade for the next act. I loved this concert scene because you could come and go as you pleased as long as you had your ticket scanned in and out. So we could use the real restrooms, get drinks and meet the opening acts and still have our seats waiting for us.




After Krista was Eric Hutchinson. He was good but I think he was unhappy with the fan reception. He kept telling us to sound excited when he announced a song and called out people who came late just to see Kelly. Yeah, he needs to work on accepting the fact we paid to see a show and he should shut up and perform. We went to meet him too, in a line of screaming teen girls. He was kind of awkward and signed my admission ticket. I don't have a picture of me with him but there is a picture of me walking beside him.



Yeah.

Anyway after Eric we had a bathroom break/lemonade refill for $2 break. We got back to our seats and enjoyed a black eyed peas pour some sugar on me remix song. Then Kelly came out and the crowd went wild. Beth, Clay and I saw Kelly Clarkson our junior year of high school together in Va Beach so this was really special to see her again right before we all go off into the real world. We linked arms and swayed back and forth to Breakaway and rocked out to My Life Would Suck Without You. That is how I feel about my friends, my life would suck without you. Seriously. This whole day was perfect.

After the concert there was closing fair fireworks since it was the last day for the fair. We walked back to the car and just enjoyed the night ride home. It was a great day with my best friends. I have lots of great pictures on facebook so check them out. The whole adventure was really spontaneous since Clay was like "lets see Kelly Clarkson tonight." I needed that kind of fresh break from monotony.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Realization Of

This morning I woke up feeling sick. My head hurt, my stomach hurt and I felt like I was going to puke. I also felt really dizzy and weak. It was a horrible feeling. I was hoping to wake up and walk 3.5 miles with my mom this morning like I did yesterday. That plan failed. I slept until about noon and finally got up and showered and attempted to iron some clothes. I felt better after a shower and I feel almost 100% better now. I am wondering if maybe I'm having a bad reaction to the antibiotics. I have a cyst that I'm trying to get rid of. Gross and TMI, I know. So I'm taking amoxicillan for it. I've taken this type of antibiotic before and never had an adverse reaction to it. This sickness is sudden and kind of a freak thing. At least I feel a bit better now.

So my additional news. Most of you know this but for those that don't, I have been accepted into RMC!!!! Officially! Orientation is August 16th. I have a week long orientation and my first day of work is my birthday, August 24th. I have been placed in my first choice placement site which is Drueding Center/Project Rainbow. This is a transitional home for homeless mothers and their children ages newborn to about 12 years of age located in Philadelphia. This is where I found I was needed the most. My official position title is "Youth Advocate."

As a Youth Advocate I'd be the voice of the youth. First of all, this is a brand new position so I don't really have a concrete job description. I'm sort of my own boss but I'll have a supervisor to report back to on my progress.. I'll be assessing the children's education and social needs. I'll have to plan and execute programs which stimulate their intellectual growth. Additionally I will work with the Homeless Childrens Initiative program in Philly and with the local public schools. I kind of have to build a relationship with key school faculty (principals, guidance counselors, etc) to learn how I can better help the homeless children in Drueding Center. I'm really excited and really nervous. The neat thing is that this position has the potential to revolutionize their program in a really positive direction! Talk about impact!

I'll be living in a community of about three to four Sisters and two other volunteers. We'll be living in a Convent in Huntingdon Valley. So I have about a 40 min commute into the city for work but I get to live in a nice part right outside the city. The program provides me with room and board, a small stipend for personal expenses, health insurance, spiritual guidance, community living, and the Americorps Award at the end of my service year. We also get a community car to use.

So that is the official news. It is really neat, my mom and dad are trying to help me get ready for the 'real' world. My mom is busy helping me pick out work outfits and my dad is giving me life advice. They are driving me up to Lewes, DE around the 12th or 13th or so. Then I'm taking the ferry over to NJ to stay with fam until the 16th. My Aunt is going to drive me up to Philly.

In other good news I'm trying really hard to take my health into my own hands. I stumbled across some pictures of me in high school. I couldn't believe how thin I was then. I thought I was kind of fat but nothing to what I am now. Not to be a downer on myself but I am def watching what I eat, drinking lots of water, and trying to exercise. I don't want to be an overweight single girl. I do hate society for making the ultimate standard of beauty a thin girl with perfect skin. That is unrealistic but the truth.

My two best friends from high school will all be officially moved back on the Eastern Shore tomorrow. So I'll have Beth and Clay to enjoy before I leave. Beth is going to grad school and Clay is looking for a job in marketing.

I guess that is it. Nothing really amazing has happened. It has just been little things. Family life is going well though. For once. Within my house. Hope it stays that way.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let the rest of my life begin

New Jersey was great! I arrived on Friday afternoon and was greeted by my grandmother, aunt, and two cousins at the Ferry. I couldn't believe how much my cousins have grown. Laura is 11 and Johnny is 7. We kind of relaxed a bit on Friday, taking in the day to do a few errands and such. That night we rented a movie, Session 9. It was ok but it could have been scarier. One of the things I love about going to New Jersey to visit family is that I get spoiled like a child. I get soda, sweets, cable, and we rent scary movies every night. I mean I suppose I could do that here except my parents eat pretty healthy, soda is limited, we don't have cable so we have to watch the movies we have all the time. I really got to bond with Laura over her Spanish summer worksheet. It was fun because we developed a lot of inside jokes out of it.

Sunday was memorable (I'm skipping around). I got up early and went to church with the family. Afterwards we had brunch at McDonalds and returned back to the house. I had a date that night with a guy who works with my Aunt. Laura had a birthday party before my date so I requested to be dropped off at my grandmother's house for a few hours. I will never forget this time I had with her. I literally had my grandmother all to myself for three hours. We looked at my pictures, figured out where I'd be working in Philly in relation to places she has been and lived. But it was nice just talking to my grandmother for a few hours without others around or distractions. Our conversations were never really deep or emotional, but they were meaningful to me. I will never forget that day and I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

Laura and my Aunt arrived kind of late, leaving me with less then an hour to get ready for my big date. We went shopping for a birthday present for Laura's friend earlier that day and I scored a rockin dress. I was looking for white Capri's to go with my black ass dress shirt but I came up empty. I opened my mind a bit and tried to find something else that would work. Before you know it I found this really cute blue dress. It went down to right above my knees, covered my fatty arms, had a plunging neckline and was made out of a material that didn't make me look fat. I loved it! It was a $30 for $15. I had to buy it. So I had this rockin dress and a date in less than an hour. I panicked as I got a shower, dried my hair, and tried to do my make up in about five seconds. Fortunately Chris got a little lost so I bought extra time.

The evening was great. He picked me up in his convertible and we venture to Sea Isle City for dinner and drinks and some entertainment here and there. We had dinner at La Casa then went to two clubs with live bands playing. I really liked Ocean Drive because the band played 90s rock and they had $5 shots of Patron on special. We had a great time. We also went to a saloon and an Irish Pub to check out the scene. He drove me home and I passed out on the air mattress in my Aunt's living room.

Monday me and the family went to the boardwalk. We rode the rides and enjoyed roller coasters, boardwalk fries, the Ferris wheel, claw machines and ice cream. I had a great day. I was a little exhausted from the night before so I didn't mind when the day came to a close. That night we watched "The Knowing" an interesting movie which didn't quite have a good ending. Tuesday we ran a few errands and visited the airport museum with my grandmother. I got to get my picture taken in various planes and helicopters. That was a lot of fun. My grandmother loves looking at the old war planes. On Wednesday my last day, we hung out in the pool and day and enjoyed the sun. My grandmother watched us from the porch. I left on Thursday afternoon and drove to Beth's to help her house sit until today, Sunday.

There are a few more things to tell but I'm exhausted so I'm going to get a shower and pass out in my own bed for the first time in two weeks. I can't wait to sleep in tomorrow.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jersey Tomorrow

Well I leave for the NJ homeland tomorrow to spend a week with my family up north. I'll try to keep updating as adventures happen. <3

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Epic Proportions

There are several things on my mind this evening. The first is just me noticing the jargon of today. Five years ago I did not use the following phrases:

totes = totally "I'm totes going to say that"
sketch= shady "That party was so sketch"
lolz= haha "Then he tripped. Lolz" (pronounced lull-zzzz)
FML = f*** my life "I had such a bad day. FML"
shiz = stuff "I have to pick up my shiz at the house"
biddy= hag or female dog "You ol' biddy you"
I'm just saying - (self explanatory)
sweet = cool "That game was so sweet"
most def = definitely "Most def, I'll be there"
stoked = excited "I'm so stoked for the weekend"
for real(z) = seriously? "I'm going to the Outer Banks for realz this time.
FAIL= something didn't go right "I tried to ask this guy out but he walked away before I could approach him. FAIL."
Epic = great "This weekend is going to be of epic proportions. OR This day is going to be EPIC"
That's What She Said = sexual innuendo "I wish it was bigger. " "Thats what she said"

There are more but I can't think of them right now. I just was amused at thinking my language today and my language five years ago. We used to say "the bomb" and "gnarly" and crap like that. Also, I want to incorporate the word "chagrin" in my vocab more often now.

Secondly. I had my cousins over for a few days. It was really great spending time with family. We didn't end up going anywhere but we watched a lot of movies and sat around and talked. It was really nice. This visit made me realize how much kids like me. I think I'm not good with kids and that I'm better with the elderly and dogs. But kids are the least judgmental creatures on the face of the earth. I became a human jungle gym and loved it. The moment I'll remember the most is when I was laying on the floor watching a movie. The two girls, one is almost 4 and the other is 6 were laying on the floor and leaning on me. So I was kind of like a big pillow. Suddenly the almost 2 year old waddles over to me, and sits down right above my chest and lays on me too. So I have a picture of the three girls laying on me watching the movie. I forget how good I am with kids. So maybe if I ever become a youth advocate one day I'll do all right.

Things at home have been on the rocky side. Small fights with my parents have escalated into serious ones. I've decided to put some distance between me and my parents for a short time. Not that this idea solves everything. I'll be going up to New Jersey to stay with family for a week starting Friday. Then I'll be back to help my friend house sit for a few days. I might help her move out of her apartment across the bay as well. So that is two weeks that I'll be out of my house and out of my parents' hair. Granted, they will miss me and I'll miss them. I just think it would be wise to have a mutual break. This is the most cost efficient way I can make it happen. I'll be spending little to no money on both trips. Plus I get to hang out with my Jersey family for a whole week! This includes my grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins and even some dogs. I'm stoked.

In other news, RMC has not called yet. They said they would call in a week to a week and a half. It has been almost a week and a half. I'm getting nervous. Like, there was a glitch in the reports or something and they are going to come to the difficult conclusion that I am not right for the program. I mean, I didn't think that was a possibility. I'm trying to rule it out in my head. Since it is getting really close to being almost two weeks I'm expecting a phone call tomorrow or Tuesday. I'd prefer tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

That is about it. I'm just watching shows on my computer and dreaming about the future. I'm looking forward to these two weeks though. It is bound to be a blast and full of adventures.

Until next time....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wishing and Hoping and Waiting and Pacing


I haven't posted in few days because nothing interesting has happened to me lately. I still do not have a job. I am still fighting with my parents almost every day. I still haven't heard from RMC about whether or not I'm accepted. I've done chores to prepare for my cousins' arrival. My dad's nephew and his family are coming to stay with us until Sunday. This will be a good time. It means a surplus of food and treats, unlimited sodas, perhaps some beer, and family fun for like three days. We're talking carnivals, state parks, watching movies. Seeing my grandmother and Aunt in New Jersey and having my dad's nephew come visit are the closest I get to family gatherings or family fun. I have a decently sized family too.

There is my mom who is one of five kids. My grandmother on her side is my only living grandparent. So I have three uncles and one aunt from my mom's siblings. Then of course almost all of them are married so that's more aunts and uncles. The only cousins I really talk to are my aunt's two kids. They are pretty young, like 11 and 6 or something like that. I'm not really sure. Then I have four great aunts. One passed away from breast cancer, one past away due to illness, and two reside in the suburbs of Philly. I am really close with my grandmother and try to talk to her at least every day.

On my dad's side of the family he was one of five. There were three brothers and one sister. One of the brothers kind of dropped off the face of the earth. The other two were kind of sort of in contact with my immediate family but now they just live their own lives. I haven't seen them since I was about 4 years old. I don't really talk to the aunt either. Then I have a great aunt who sends me presents and cards on holidays. I don't even know what she looks like. My grandparents on his side died before my parents were married. But sure enough we discovered through hereditary searches that my dad's nephew was looking for his uncles. We got connected and in a day I had over seven new cousins. My dad's three nephews and their children. It is pretty awesome. Then through more tracking we actually found my dad's half brother....that was almost a family secret. My dad knew of his half brother but never knew who he was. So that whole section of the family came down from the north to visit my dad. So, I do have family. It is just kind of spread out.

I'm an only child too.

So today one of my dad's nephews is coming with his wife and three kids. They visited us last year too. They are a great bunch. The kids add a bit of livelihood into the house. I like to hang out with my cousin who took an interest in my radio show.

Other than that I've just been sitting by the phone waiting for RMC to call me. I was told I'd hear from the Director in a week to a week and a half. The official mark for one week was yesterday. Ok, so week and a half...that is Friday or Saturday. Today is Thursday. I really hope I hear something soon. While yes, Eileen said it looked good, anything could change. They could find a flaw in one of the reports or think about something I said during a meeting or dinner and decide I'm not a good fit for the program. I'm starting to doubt myself, even though that was the best interview I've ever had. What would I do if they reject me? Get a real job, obviously. I'd move out as quickly as I could find a job. But what would I do? A part of doing this program is because I still don't know what I want to do with my life. So this will help me decide or come up with something or learn things about myself that I didn't know before. Please call. You are making me nervous.

Its almost noon and I am still rockin my PJs. I suppose I should get dressed and make sure there is nothing else that needs to be cleaned or cooked or arranged. You'd think the Queen of England was coming to visit. :) I'm not complaining. Its a fresh change of pace and a break from monotony.

Until next time....

Sick September A Recap

After an fantastic month of August where all the stars were aligned and life seemed damn near perfect, I entered the month of September with...