Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do not look forward to the changes of life in fear;
rather look to them with full hope as they arise,
God will deliver you from out of them.
He has kept you hitherto,
do you but hold fast to His dear hand,
and He will lead you safely through all things;
and, when you cannot stand,
He will bear you in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you then and everyday.
Either He will shield you from suffering,
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Last night, my sister showed me this prayer and I've been obsessed with it ever since. Currently, my family is going through a very scary, difficult time. Last week, my dad had a stem cell transplant, which involves high dose chemo that wipes out his entire immune system. In order to keep him alive, they infuse him with his healthy stem cells. This process of revitalizing his immune system takes time, so he is currently at extreme risk of infection, and now has to spend 7-10 days in the hospital. He sleeps all day, needs help walking, can hardly eat, and has become increasingly irritable. 

This current situation has obviously left each member of my family struggling through it and constantly searching for strength to continue through their day. Personally, it has been really hard for me to be away at school and have to go to my classes, do homework, etc. as if nothing is out of the ordinary. A lot of the time, I feel like a zombie and completely out of it, as my thoughts are solely centered around my dad and how he's doing. All I want to do is be at home with my family, not sitting in the library studying Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Reading this prayer has left me feeling that maybe I CAN get through this. That maybe I really do have enough strength to keep living my life while all of this is going on. God is there for me even when I feel completely alone, guiding me towards peace, hope, and faith. The most I can do is accept Him with open arms, even when it seems easier to reject Him and just dwell on the worst. Also, this prayer made me think about all of the gifts God has given me to help me overcome this dark time. Specifically, God has given me the absolute best friends at Notre Dame. They have left me feeling completely overwhelmed with love and support countless times, and they go above and beyond to make sure I know that they are thinking of me and praying for me. I feel so lucky and blessed to have them in my life, and I don't know where I would be without them. I see God working through each one of them every day.

I copy/pasted this prayer on a "sticky note" on my laptop desktop. Now, every morning and whenever I feel down, I will read this prayer and remember that God is with me and will guide me through this journey.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time.... God is forcing us on, or up, to a higher level: putting us into situations where we will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than we ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us”

Recently, my dad received some bad news about his cancer. In the past week, he has had to undergo many tests and scans, which has proved to be very difficult because of his short term memory loss and other health issues. Everything has taken twice as long as it needs to be and we have to constantly repeat what is going on and remind him of the unfortunate status of his cancer. During times like this, it's so so easy to dwell on how unfair everything is and how my dad and my family have done nothing to deserve any of these hard times. It doesn't make any sense and there is no way to fix it or make it go away, and so it feels justified to become angry with God for allowing any of it to happen. 

I came across the quote above during a philosophy class this past semester. I love it because it acknowledges that we have no idea why bad things happen to the best people. Although we can't understand why we have to go through personal obstacles, God vows to never leave us alone and we must remain confident that we will only become stronger, better people on the other side. Recently, this quote has given me a lot of strength because it reminds me that I have more love and patience than I sometimes feel I have. Inevitably, I will still have my moments of frustration, sadness, and anger, but this quote helps me move away from that unhealthy place and towards a place of acceptance. Especially when we go through obstacles and tragedies, it's almost impossible to fully accept that God has a plan for each of us that we won't ever completely understand. However, I find comfort in knowing that God will help me as much as I let Him and that these trying times are providing opportunities to become the best person I can be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It’s amazing to think that I started this blog almost exactly four years ago.  When I first made the blog, I remember feeling desperate to relate to someone else about all the feelings and emotions I had been enduring.  My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer one year before, and had lost his short-term memory three years before that.  Although at the time, his cancer had made it into remission, I still struggled with accepting all of the obstacles my dad and my family had gone through.  His short-term memory loss especially affected me, as I was constantly reminded of the difficult reality with his repetitive questions and altogether different personality.

First and foremost, I’m proud of my seventeen-year-old self for dealing with these feelings in such a healthy way.  Instead of internalizing my emotions and isolating myself from others, I took my struggles as an opportunity to potentially help others who are also going through various obstacles.  The main goal of this blog continues to be to relate to others in any way that I can.  If a simple sentence or quote strikes someone and lessens his/her pain in any way, I’ve accomplished what I’ve sought out to do.  It means the world to when people have reached out and have told me that their blog inspired them and motivated them to keep going.  The ability to connect with someone in this way affects everyone involved and makes the world feel that much less overbearing.

Although so much has remained the same, I have also grown so much in the past four years.  I have learned so much about myself, and have learned how to truly love and value myself.  Four years ago, I undermined my emotions and thought that being strong meant not feeling sad or overwhelmed.  I wanted to avoid these feelings, and I would get angry with myself when I felt upset.  Now, I accept and embrace these feelings. I realize that these moments of emotion make me human.  Instead of making me weak, they make me strong because I am able to overcome them and remain determined to live a happy, full life.

Life is life and horrible, unfair, scary things happen to the best of people.  Letting this fact dominate your mentality will only cause you to be miserable.  If nobody can change the inevitability of death and suffering, why not learn to liv the best life possible while you can!? Your mortality can serve to motivate you instead of burden you.  Nobody’s perfect, and some days, life will get the best of you.  Simply stepping out every day with the intention to remain peaceful and happy is enough to truly live to your full potential.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I was recently looking through old pictures on my phone and came across this screenshot.  At the time, I screenshotted it because my mom's message really struck me.  At the time of this conversation (last fall), my dad had just found out that his cancer came back, and that he had very large tumors on his chest. Because of his short term memory loss, it took him a while to ingrain the knowledge that he had cancer into his memory. This time was extremely scary for my entire family. None of us had any idea of what the future would bring for my dad. For me, everything seemed to be falling apart and I had no way to control any of it. Being away from home was overwhelming and stressful, especially because I had to keep up with school even though I was constantly thinking and worrying about my dad. Scary, negative thoughts were always going through my head, and I was always preparing myself for the worst. When I got these texts from my mom, though, I began to see it all from a different light. I couldn't control my dad's cancer or what would happen to him, but instead of using all my energy worrying and being pessimistic, I could spend my time remaining hopeful by praying and going to the grotto alone or with my friends.

I hope to one day have the strength and the trust in God that my dad naturally has each day. Despite all of the horrible things he has gone through, his faith never falters. Instead, he remains confident that God will continue to be by his side, and my family's side, and that everything will be okay. Some days, it takes a lot of extra effort to maintain this mentality because all you want to do is yell at God and feel defeated. However, I hope to use my dad as a constant example to live my life like him every day regardless of the difficult, troubling events that may be occurring around me. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Below is a blog post from my little sister, Margaret.  Everyone check out her amazing blog at Absolute Compassion!  Rockkk on, sista! 

“The fact is that when you make the other suffer, he will try to find relief by making you suffer more. The result is an escalation of suffering on both sides.” - Thích Nhất Hạnh

Obviously when you are hurt by someone you want to hurt them back. It’s the first instinct. It’s a defense mechanism. But think where that will get you with that person. It will lead to so much more suffering and heartache. No one wants to be around a spiteful person who will just do stuff to hurt you.
That is just so genuinely mean and sad that someone would just want to make you suffer. But you will always encounter those people. If you love someone and you want the best for that person, why would you want to cause suffering to that person? It makes zero sense to me but recently people do shit just to hurt me. How am I supposed to react? It just gets to me. It works. Their mean spiritedness hurts me. As much as I don’t want it to, it does.
How do I act on it? I can’t just let it go because I have such anger and resentment. Giving a reaction will just give that person what they want. But who would want that negativity and drama in their lives?! This person is toxic and spiteful and it’s not fair. It just proves how they shouldn’t be in my life. So yes, you are supposed to let it go and do whatever you need to it away from you. Block them. Do whatever. No matter how bad I want them to be happy and want the best for them, they just want me to be sad. Why is that ok?
Know that if this is the case for you, your frequencies just don’t match. The level of awareness just isn’t the same and there is nothing you can do.
Bottom line, there is nothing you can do about it. The only option is just to let it go. If you don’t let it go there will just be more suffering. Pointless suffering. Pointless negativity. Get that negativity out of your life and live in YOUR truth

Monday, February 10, 2014

"My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome."  

This quote was the mantra for the meditation I did today. It epitomizes how I want to live each and every day. In life, the only actions I can control are my own. Because of this, I cannot let others' behavior and reactions to me define who I think I am and what I think of the world around me. As long as I seize each moment and remain the best person I can be, everything will fall into place. This mentality would be impossible if I took others' actions personally. Inevitably, some people are going to react negatively to me and will treat me badly or will simply not like me. I refuse to take these reactions personally because they do not have anything to do with me; they are reflections of their own wounds they have deep inside themselves. It means that I simply do not attract similar energies as them, and that we are not compatible in the moment. If I approach each person with love, there's absolutely nothing more that I can do. I must work to avoid focusing on what I think others want me to do or what I think I'm supposed to do to reach a specific outcome. Instead, I need to breathe and simply stay present and peaceful in each moment, leading with my most authentic self and my soul's deepest values.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"At all times your world is a projection of yourself. Expansion of self to universal awareness is enlightenment."

I was completely struck by this quote when I first saw it. This quote epitomizes how ultimately, each one of us chooses the world we live in. Sure, bad things happen to good people and we often come across difficult circumstances. It's our job to accept those uncontrollable situations, and to refuse to let them dictate how we view each moment and each day. Letting them dictate your life results in living in fear instead of love.

If you live your life in fear, you let your daily insecurities and daily obstacles define your life and who you are. Instead, we all need to work on living with love. This means that you work to live every moment being the most authentic self that you can be. This means living life fully vulnerable and open, determined to make the most out of every situation. Of course, there will be some days where this is nearly impossible and it'll be a struggle to even get out of bed. All that matters is that you face every day trying your best. By being your best, most authentic self, you are doing everything that you can in each moment. If you do this, you can confidently accept the fact that YOU are enough. Everything that's meant to be WILL fall into place the way it needs to because you're living your life guided by love and gratitude for every moment.

Originally, I had planned to study abroad this semester in Australia. I was so excited to get out of the South Bend winter and explore a part of the world that I had only ever dreamed about. However, last semester, I decided that it would be best to withdraw and stay close to home so that I could spend time with my family while my dad underwent treatment for his cancer. I realized that one day, I may regret going abroad and being away from my family during this time, but that I would never regret the precious times spent with my dad if I stayed at Notre Dame. 

Although the decision basically made itself, it was still a huge disappointment. With this horrible, freezing weather and the additional hardship of two of my best friends abroad, this semester could be the worst, most depressing one yet. However, I refuse to let these situations dictate how I live my life. I'm determined find the little things each day to help me remain happy. Instead of focusing on all the adventures I could be having, I remember that I'm still here with some of the greatest friends, and that I have the absolute best time with them. Also, I challenge myself to meditate every morning and work out every day to stay centered and healthy. 

Inevitably, there have been days where I feel like giving up and where I wish my life could be different. I accept these feelings when they come, knowing that they will pass and that I deserve to let myself feel them. The goal is not to be happy 100% of the time, but to simply accept each moment when it comes and try my best to remain my greatest self no matter what comes my way.

Better Late Than Never

I haven't posted anything in about six months, but suddenly had a burst of inspiration to start trying to post again. Hopefully I can make it a regular thing again!