Catholicism

Soul Searcher

Hubby & Me on our Hawaiian Honeymoon in 1996

An unexpected trip to Chicago this past weekend had Hubby & me enjoying the nice warm weather mostly in the comforts of our car. But that was okay, since we had good tunes to listen to … and even better conversations.

Oh, and not to mention, a great dinner in Bucktown Saturday night followed by some delicious Dim Sum in Chinatown the next morning as we left the city.

The weekend wrapped up with a movie; a perfect way to keep cool on an unseasonably warm Spring Day. I had wanted to see something uplifting and inspirational, so Hubby & I decided to go see “Soul Surfer.”

Okay, so the inspirational part was more secondary to the fact that I just really wanted to see surfing. And Hawaii. I just love any movies with Hawaii as the backdrop. And it’s all because it brings back some incredible Honeymoon memories, oh so long ago. So yeah, a movie filmed in Hawaii would make a very happy Emily.

Bethany Hamilton still surfs

So yeah, uplifting and inspirational. And boy … did I get both.

For those that haven’t seen trailers or haven’t heard about this movie, it’s based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, then this probably will: Bethany was the 13-year old girl who, in 2003 was bit by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. She had lost her arm to the shark, but had gone on to continue to surf even after that incident.

I won’t give much of the movie away here, but what I will say is that within 15-minutes of the movie I was crying. And I continued to cry (intermittently, that is) throughout the entire movie. It was that good.**

One particular part of the movie had seriously gotten under my skin. After sustaining her injury, Bethany obviously began to question herself; question what her bigger picture in life was. After all, surfing was her life … and what could she do now that she no longer could do it well enough to successfully compete? She had gone to her church’s youth group leader, Sarah Hill (played by Carrie Underwood, BTW) and asked her, “Why?” If she had been given this incredible gift, why would God do this to her?

In the midst of crying, Sarah told her exactly what I thought she would her: That there must be a bigger plan out there for her. And that only God knows what that plan is.

Yes, I can see all my IF friends rolling their eyes and saying, “Yep. Heard that one before.”

And I can tell you that, in the midst of tears, even *I* rolled my eyes. But it’s what Sarah said afterwards that had me crying even more:

First, she said “I don’t know what that plan is.” This always gets bonus points for me, since my experience with the “God must have a bigger plan” statement has always ended with just that one phrase.

If only one time, I could’ve heard the added phrase, “I don’t know what the plan is” from any well-intentioned family or friends … that would’ve lessened the burden in which I felt *I* had to carry this burden on my own. That one added piece would have given me the comfort of knowing that I wasn’t crazy for being so angry and so confused over something that no one (not even an IF Doctor) had control over.

Then Sarah goes on to say, “I don’t know why terrible things happen to us sometimes.  But I have to believe that something good is gonna come out of this.” And that’s the statement that had me weeping.

See … that’s the one thing that had been missing once Hubby and I stopped all treatments for Infertility: The belief that there’s something better waiting around the corner for me. That there was something else I could look forward to.

In the midst of deciding what Hubby & my next steps would be after stopping treatments, I was too close – too involved – with the smaller picture, that I couldn’t see what the bigger picture was for me and Hubby. At first I couldn’t see past the anger and pain of being barren to see what else was in my “bigger picture.”  But eventually, as the storm clouds pummeled through and the dust finally settled, we both took a step back and decided that living child-free was part of that bigger picture.

But now, almost two years later … I feel like I’m lost once again. If I can’t be a Mom, then what will I be? What can I do? How am I now going to be able to measure my “successes” in life … especially since other women and couples can measure there’s by the success of their children? ***

Honeymoon Sunset in Hawaii

It’s no mystery that I’ve been experiencing an ongoing identity crisis. And that Infertility has played the biggest part into questioning who I am … or who I could become. I know that, as this movie portrays, I should have faith that God knows what my bigger plan is for my life. I just wish I had the strength and conviction that Bethany – despite being so young – has that something … anything good will come out of something like infertility.

I just wish I could, at the very least, get a glimpse of that big picture.

So with that said … go see “Soul Surfer.” Not only will you see beautiful shots of Hawaii (Kauai, in fact … my favorite of the islands we’ve visted) … but you will see an incredible story of a girl who overcame her fears to do something that was within her soul.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

 ** Okay, so the acting wasn’t exactly stellar, but the story was.

 *** And when I mean success, I mean those milestones in their kids’ lives. First word, first step, first day of school, first date … it can go on and on and on. Graduation, wedding, grandchildren … need I go on more?

Forty Days of Night

Forty days ago, my Dad past away. Today, amongst our Filipino-Catholic family and friends, we will be celebrating the 40th day of remembrance.

For those of you that aren’t familiar (or haven’t read this previous post), the 40th day is believed to be the day that a loved one has “finished” visiting his/her loved ones on earth and is ready to ascend into the heavens.

I won’t lie … it has been an incredibly emotional and physically exhausting couple of months. Throw the holidays into the mix and … well, yeah. Let’s just say the hamster on the wheel inside my head has been working overtime.

As I had expected, there are those days where I’m so busy that I don’t have time to think about the loss of my Dad. And then there are those times … usually during the most random moment … where it hits me square in the chest.

My cousin and I, during the initial 9-day Novena period, started to refer to those moments as “Meltdowns.” Something, typically some off-the-wall memory of my Dad, would transform me into a blubbering mess. And although these “meltdowns” don’t happen as readily as they did in the first few weeks, I still wonder when I’ll start to feel a bit better.

I have many stories to share … some of them involving stories of “visits” from my Dad over the past 40 days … yet I feel I’ve got little strength to write by the end of the day. This is obvious, as I haven’t had the inclination to blog over the past few months.

So yeah … this is my sad attempt to start writing again. And maybe when those every-day memories of my Dad don’t hurt so much, I’ll be able to tell you some of those stories.

But for now, just know that I’m around. And I’m reading. And I’m hoping to get back into some sort of “normal” again soon.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Related Posts:

Emily Prays for Nine Days

Emily Hits a Previous 40-Day Mark

My New Life Eggsamined

Easter is another one of those holidays.

No, I don’t mean to belittle Catholicism; because I know that today is the most important Holy Day in the Catholic Faith. And, like Christmas, I do understand the “reason for the season.” I do realize that both are more than just holidays that brings out “fictional” characters (like a Bunny who “lays” eggs or a jolly rotund man dressed up in a red suit** ) that bring about candy and gifts.

What I mean to say is that Easter has become one of those holidays like Christmas and Mother’s/Father’s Day that, to an infertile couple, can be a difficult one. It’s a reminder of what we currently don’t have in our lives; the children who enjoy the wonderment of Easter and the joy that hopefully all parents have when they see the look in their kids eyes. It’s a reminder of all the new life that Springs brings into the world.

Perhaps some infertile couples go on to having children naturally or through other assistive measures. Others have braved the waters and opened their homes and hearts to adopt children. And then there are those that have taken the less explored road of living child-free.

While I can relate very much to those couples that are currently experiencing infertility; I find it more and more difficult to relate to those infertile couples that have crossed over to parenthood.

Please don’t get me wrong … I’m incredibly happy that those who have “survived” infertility have gone on to live their dreams of having a family. And I’m proud of the strength that they continue to have as they raise their children after all the struggles they went through to have them.

For those couples that have decided to live child-free, it wasn’t a decision that came lightly. It wasn’t something that came to us as if to say, “Well, we’ve already been living child-free; so why shake things up now?” And it’s certainly not a decision that we made based on selfishness.

Hubby & Me as Easter Eggs

No … it’s a decision that came after a long struggling road of peaks and valleys; of unnerving anxiety and unwanted stress. And when there was simply not enough energy, not enough finances; not enough miracles left from up above … the only option was to pick up the pieces of the already shattered dream and start a new life.

So perhaps this Easter; the first year that Hubby & I have officially decided to live child-free … it will be this Easter in which we celebrate the next phase in our marriage; we’ll begin our new life.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Happy Easter to all of you out in Blogland! I hope that this Easter brings about a New Life in all of you. And now for the second to last Lenten Daily for the season.

Daily Good Deed: What better way to celebrate the arrival of my niece and nephew this evening by putting together a couple of Easter baskets? Nothing fancy, but a little something to let them know that they are loved by their Uncle & Auntie.

Daily Grateful Thought: We spent Easter afternoon with our friend T who invited us over to celebrate Easter with his mom and brother at his brother’s place in Evanston. Oh … and did I forget to tell you that T’s brother is a Jesuit priest?! Yes … we had an absolutely delightful time and am so grateful for such a wonderful Easter celebration. More importantly, I’m still so grateful for old friends.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** Which, by the way …did you know that the North Magnetic Pole is currently located in Canada? Guess that means Santa Claus is Canadian.

The *Other* Look

Vintage Hello Kitty, circa 1976

I was five years old when I got caught shoplifting.

It’s one of those definable moments in life that a person never forgets. And it’s funny that today this memory would bubble to the surface of my mind.

I’m not quite sure what triggered this memory. Perhaps it’s because I’m hanging out at the local Border’s on Michigan Ave again (free WiFi … gotta love it!) Or maybe it’s because I happened to see a little kiosk in front of Macy’s that had stuff similar to the chotskies I stole at the tender age of five.

Anyway, I can remember shopping with my mom at Oakland Mall one Saturday afternoon when the incident happened. It must have been around Easter or Christmas, because all I could remember was having to try on frilly dresses that I had no intention of keeping clean once I wore them. Distracted by the ribbons and laces on third floor of Hudson’s, my Mom left me to my own device around the girls section.

I naturally found my way over to the little Sanrio kiosk located close to the girly accessories. The little Asian girl in me absolutely looooved Hello Kitty and secretly wished she could be Hello Kitty’s twin sister, Mimmy. As Mom continued to be distracted by polyester and rayon (it was the late 70’s at that time … breathable stain-free fabric for kids still hadn’t been invented), I thought about how cool it would be to have this pocket sized colored pencil and paper set complete with Hello Kitty stickers. Because they were so small, I didn’t think twice about putting them in my purple hippo Garanimal pants.

Early 80's Hello Kitty Chotsky. Would have gone good with those mini colored pencils!

And because my Mom just happened to call me at that moment to try on a few dresses, I quite honestly forgot about my new treasure until we got home. Which of course, when I discovered it in my pocket, I immediately went to my bedroom and began to draw with my new mini-colored pencil set.

I probably would have gotten off scott free if my Mom didn’t catch me playing with my new “toy” the next morning before Mass. In which I can remember the shame I immediately felt when she asked me where I got those pencils. Without my Mom having to say any more words, I broke down and sobbed; confessing that I took them from the store the day before.

Now is the time I can tell you about this particular look my Mom would give Dr. Bro and me whenever she was angry. In our teenage years, Dr. Bro and I would call it “The Eyes.”

Yes … Eyes. As in plural. Because she just wouldn’t give us the “stink eye” where one eye would squint while the other eye glared at you intensely with the corresponding eyebrow severely arched in an upward manner. No … my Mom’s look was more like two normally big eyes bulging out to two times its normal size. Both eyebrows would be arched to the extreme while she glared at you as if lasers would shoot from her eyes to burn every fiber of hair on our heads. Needless to say, Dr. Bro and I would run and take cover whenever “The Eyes” would come out.

Probably late 90's version of Hello Kitty

I distinctly remember the look in my Mom’s face when I confessed about stealing the pencil and pad set. Because it wasn’t “The Eyes.” Rather, it was this strange mixture of shock and sadness. As she stood speechless in front of me for a few moments, I suddenly felt smaller than I ever had been in the five short years of my life. I can recall feeling that way because I knew my shoplifting caused her to have that expression … and I hated knowing that I disappointed her so badly. At that moment, I almost wished I would have gotten “The Eyes” instead of that other look.

After she recovered from my confession, I was told to go to my room where I would wait anxiously until she returned. That’s when I got the lecture about stealing, which of course was reinforced by the Seventh Commandment. Then it was off to Mass where I had to pray to God for forgiveness. Afterward, we went straight to the mall where my Mom would make me give back what I stole and tell the store clerk that I was very sorry.

Obviously it was a very good method of learning from one’s mistake, because I’ve never shoplifted again since that incident.

I’ve seen “The Eyes” many times in my life; especially during those high school and college years. But I had never seen that other look since my shoplifting incident. I’ve never seen her disappointed in me as much as she was that Sunday morning.

To me, that is an extremely important thing to remember. Because even during the worst days of my infertility journey, when I felt as if I was as small as that five-year old version of me, she’s never me shown that “Other Look.”

Which, to me, means that even though *I* feel as if I’ve disappointed both her and my Dad by not giving them the grandchildren they so deserve, my Mom isn’t.

Disappointed in me, that is.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Whew … is Easter here yet?! Oh yes, only 10 more days left of this Lenten Crusade.

Probably my fave Hello Kitty ... a Filipino version! LOL!

Daily Random Act of Kindness: Ugh. Having a hard time remember what good deed I’ve done today. Short of holding elevators for complete strangers and holding doors open for fellow employees, I can’t think of anything significant. Eesh … perhaps I need to make it up tomorrow with a better good deed.

Daily Thought of Gratitude: Not sure if I already said this in the past 30 or so days or this exercise, but I’m thankful for mass transportation. I love that I can get to places without having to drive myself (or have Hubby drive). I love that I can jump on a bus and travel down one end of Michigan Avenue to the other. But another unexpected benefit of mass transit is that I find myself getting more walking time in; it forces me to be active for more than I normally would have been if I was still living in Detroit.

Okay. I’m tired … and I still have another day of work in front of me before the weekend. Think I’m calling it a night!!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Spare Parts

I actually started writing this post on my iPhone on the drive from Chicago to Detroit. Ah … The wonders of modern technology!

Click on to the picture to find out about this "store front"

Typically on the 5-hour drive, Hubby usually gets the “honor” of being behind the wheel. And there’s something about his driving that usually lulls me to sleep. But today, despite staying up late last night and putting in a six-hour work day, I’m surprisingly wide awake. Maybe it’s the Real Fruit Berry Slushie from the Sonic in K-zoo? Nah …

In the past, whenever we’d go on long road trips, Hubby & I would make it an event. We’d stack up the CD’s and pack some snacks and have so much fun. And in between Van Morrison and CCR songs** Hubby and I would have these incredible conversations about our life together, our future, and our hopes & dreams.

Not that we still don’t have awesome conversations now on our round-trips between Chi-Town and Motown; it’s just that they don’t always happen during every trip … Especially with Hubby’s uncanny ability to make me so nice and relaxed when he does the driving.

And because those conversations were really in the earlier years of our relationship, there was more to find out about one another. There was more about us, as individuals, to share. There were more dreams of the ideal future to discuss.

There was none of those shared worries or disappointments. There was no shared heartbreaks for futures that weren’t realized. There was only hope.

It’s because of those things that these awesome conversations happen less … But when they do, they are so much more exciting and fun.

Today, Hubby & I had one of those fun conversations. Since learning more web apps, he’s been dying to either a) start up and design his own blog, or b) take my blog and move it to my own domain so that he can have all the fun in playing around with it while designing it. Now I’m totally for Option B here*** but I’d also love to see Hubby write his own blog as well.

Anyway, a couple days we were trying to come up with potential names for his blog. Unfortunately, we never came up with any that would “stick.”

Today on the drive to Detroit, I came up with a name that I thought would make for a great new blog title … For me. Except when I told Hubby about it, he thought that I was talking about a blog title for him.

The title? “Spare Parts” which would have been great for an infertile living child-free like me, who still has all her lady parts. Except … well, except they just don’t work. So yeah. Spare. Parts.

Hubby, on the other hand, thought that I was talking about a blog name for him, where he’s just the “spare part” to me. In which  he proceeded to say to me, “What does that mean? That I’m so old and broken? And that I’m replaceable? For newer parts?”

He was serious, and yet I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Of course not,” I told him. “I was talking about myself!” and then I explained to him the reason I came up with the name.

But that still didn’t stop Hubby from calling himself as “Spare Part” for the rest of our drive home. Or referring to particular Hubby behaviors as a “Spare Part” behavior. Like, for instance, the fact that he has a tendency to ask multiple questions at one time as “Spare Part questions.” Or heading in the wrong direction towards the freeway as “Spare Part directions.”

Later on that night, as we were closer to home I told him that he was irreplaceable. That there was only one Hubby for me. And if anything, I was the one who was replaceable … with my broken parts.

And of course he told me that *I* had no spare parts; that I was perfect the way I am. Most importantly, he told me this: The two of us separately can be seen as “spare parts.” But together … well, that just makes us whole.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Now … for my daily Lenten activities:

Today’s Good Deed: At work, I had scheduled a vendor meeting for my entire team (not my first choice of days during the week). This, unfortunately meant that my telecommuters had to come in to the office for the day. Hubby gave me the brilliant idea of bringing in some treats for the team. So we stopped off at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to the office and picked up a dozen donuts; for no other reason other than to celebrate that it was Friday and that we were all together in the office. The best part? As I stepped out of the elevator, three of my team members were waiting to climb on to go down for a morning snack. And guess what they were going to buy? That’s right peeps … donuts! Hubby obviously had a sixth sense about stopping for this particular snack.

Today’s Gratitude: Every time we go back to Metro-Detroit, we make it a ritual to meet up with our friend, J. And of course, we try to meet up at our favorite local tavern for some good burgers. Tonight was no exception to our meet-up, but … being a (questionably) good Catholic, I refrained from eating meat on a Friday during Lent. (I know! What restraint!!) I may have mentioned in previous posts that we consider J one of our closest friends; so today I’m grateful for this friendship and the incredible conversations we have whenever we get together.

So that’s it for today … it’s actually quite late as I’m finishing up this post. Truth be told, it’s already Saturday early morning … but since I technically didn’t sleep yet … this is still Friday’s post. And that’s how I’m going to date it.

So there. <sticks tongue out>

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** Because there’s something about those classic rock songs that just make you wanna sing them at the top of our lungs while driving long distances …

*** Hey, why not?! It’d be relatively free for me!

Protected: Finding the Peace Train

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Keeping the Momentum

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve changed since coming to a resolution with my infertility; since moving to Chicago. It’s been a gradual change; mostly based on the increasing confidence and strength I’ve garnered over the past year.

And this past month, with all the writing I’ve been doing … I realize that my posts have definitely taken a different tone.  Specifically, I’ve noticed that I’ve taken a break from the sad, depressing — and even angry — parts of my life.

I have always loved making observations about myself and of the world. My mom always told me that I was both very perceptive and inquisitive, so I guess it comes naturally to me. The only problem I’ve encountered (especially more recently) is that I often forget what an impact some of these observations have on me. And if I don’t write them down … well, then my “lightbulb moment” gets lost in the dim recess of my mind.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

Speaking of observations … yesterday was the “observed” Catholic Holy Day of Ash Wednesday. Ask me if I went to mass … and I’m sure you’d already know the answer. But we’ve already had many a conversation about my actual “practice” of my Catholic faith.

Regardless, there are certain things … traditions, really … that I like to follow. (Coincidentally, a bloggie friend recently talked about how traditions in religion is something she enjoys … read about it here.) One of them is the practice of “giving up” something during Lent.

I debated for a few days as to what I would give up this year. In the past, I’ve typically given up things that I really, really enjoy … knowing that I’d really only be practicing the art of self-restraint.  One year it was chocolate-covered pretzels, and another year was caramel apple suckers. Come Easter after both years, I was so good at exercising self-restraint that I no longer had those “cravings” to consume them as I had done before Ash Wednesday.

This year I thought about giving up Coca-Cola (I’m addicted) or even any form of chocolate (detrimental to *anyone’s* sanity). And as I told my co-worker this, she told me what she decided to do different for Lent this year.

Since she was already pretty adept at giving up things for Lent, my co-worker chose to “pay it forward” this Lenten season. Meaning that she would decide to do one random act of kindness every day for the 40 days before Easter.

The more she talked about her plans, the more she had me sold on doing the same thing. Even though I understand the concept of “giving up” something for Lent as being able to exercise abstinence and to “purify the soul” before the day of Resurrection … the “rebel” Catholic in me thinks that this concept in this century is self-defeating, rather than self-appreciating.

If this sounds muddled, let me explain it with this train of thought: If I decide to give up chocolate for Lent this year and I’m not successful, I know I’d feel guilty. Even worse is that the mere thought of having chocolate before Easter would already elicit those feelings of guilt … even if I didn’t have any .

Yeah, self-defeating.

But … let’s say that instead of “giving up” something, I decide to “give” something to someone else … like an extra sandwich from my catered lunch meeting today to the homeless person outside of the Starbucks by work … well, it would make me feel as if I’ve helped someone else and it would make me feel good about myself. And in the end, it would boost my confidence.

Kinda like how once I started to allow myself to feel “happy” again (after 12+ years of infertility), I’ve managed to garner some momentum in gaining confidence and strength. And more importantly, contentment in my overall life. (See how it all ties together?)

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

My goal this February was to write an entry a day; and seeing that I have only 11 days to go, I’m pretty sure I will meet this goal and gather more of that strength and confidence.

LOOVE this "work flow" chart!

SO … in order to continue that forward momentum, I’ve decided to borrow my co-worker’s Lenten promise. Starting today (and ending on Easter Monday … since I’m already a day behind), I am going to vow to perform one random act of kindness a day and document that daily deed on my blog.

But not only that … I’m also going write about one thing that I’m thankful for every day. Because the exercise here is to remember that others may not have the same luxuries (whether material or other luxuries) in life that I do.

And I hope this gets me closer towards feeling more fulfilled in this life.

Today, I am Polish-Filipino

If there’s one thing I love about Chicago, it’s the fact that they share a lot of the same traditions as Detroit does. Today just happens to be one of those days.

I had a co-worker back in Michigan that moved from the East Coast. The first February in Detroit, she recalled how she’d be reading the newspaper and would stumble upon this word that she had NO idea how to pronounce.

“Pack-zee? Pass-key?” That’s how she thought the word would sound like. “And what the *heck* is ‘Pazz-ski Day’ anyway?”

My fellow Detroiters and I laughed when we heard that statement. “Poonch-kee,” we corrected her. But really, we couldn’t fault her because … well, unless your Polish, you probably wouldn’t know how to pronounce “Paczki.”

For those of you that aren’t familiar with what a Paczki is, it’s a deep-fried piece of dough that is typically filled with either crème or jelly. Sounds like a regular doughnut, doesn’t it? Except it isn’t … it’s made out of especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugars and sometimes milk.  So basically it’s a lot more calories than your typical filled doughnut.

Paczki Day started as a Polish tradition in which a typical Polish-Catholic would make batches and batches of paczki to try to purge any ingredients that might spoil during the Lenten season. And, of course, what better day to get “rid” of all those extra paczki than to make Fat Tuesday the official day for these treats?

This tradition carried over to the US, and in particular the Midwestern states, where there are large communities of Polish-Americans. Detroit, in particular, has Hamtramck; a city of Polish descendents within the city of Detroit. And Chicago, apparently also has a multitude of Polish neighborhoods; which is collectively known as Chicago Polonia.

And why do I know so much of the history of Paczki Day? Well … let’s just say the Catholic Grade School I went to comprised mostly of Polish-Americans. So much that this Filipino-American knew more about pierogi and sauerkraut than the typical non-Polish-American. 

Seriously … our Grade School’s Annual Festival comprised of your typical Midway rides, a beer tent and a Polka contest. (And no … I do  not know how to Polka. But I have been taken around the dance floor a couple times!)  In fact these same co-workers (who helped me tease our East Coast transplant) have all but named me an “Honorary Pole” for knowing a little too much of Polish traditions!

So yes … I just thought I’d bring a little history to y’all non-Polish peeps and any non-Midwesterners. Have a wonderful FAT TUESDAY and a Happy Paczki Day!!

All "Kidding" Aside …

Hubby & I are back in Michigan for the weekend. It’s kinda nice to be back, although I do believe that the weather report exaggerated exactly how much snow that they supposedly got. I mean really … Chicago got a whopping 12.6 inches in 24hrs last week, so I was expecting at least 10-12 inches here as well. But nope; it looks like there was only about 4 inches outside of our house.

It’s funny though, because after experiencing the snow storm in Chicago last week, I realize how much I could actually survive in a city where there is a lot of walking involved. Especially that walk from work to the El station, and the El station to our apartment. Or when needing to take our puppy out for a walk.

Oh trust me, it was tiring walking in a foot of snow, but it’s so different from winter life here in Michigan where the longest walk would be from my car to the front door of my (previous) office building. Or the longest amount of time I’d have to be outside was to shovel the driveway and sidewalk.

Uncle J and the Birthday Girl

Anyway, the reason we are back in town this weekend was to celebrate our friends’ daughter’s 1st birthday. This particular couple has survived the the throes of infertility and have managed to get a totally awesome daughter in the process. A-girl is such a good-natured girl; always smiling and engaging everyone that comes in contact with her. Even in the midst of her birthday party when we could tell she was getting really sleepy, she still would smile and allow others to hold and carry her.

And as A-girl sat in our lap today, both Hubby & I couldn’t help but be amazed with her. We let her play with my iPhone and were quite surprised by how her little chubby fingers could flip through my photo album. Then we let her play Bejeweled 2 for the phone, and were shocked when we saw how successful she was … especially since her dad happens to be the one person‘s score I aim to beat every week on Facebook.

Also at this party was Cutie Girl; the same precocious little girl who always asks us about our dog and our cats. She is so sassy and smart  that I can’t help but be taken in by her incredibly large personality.

Cutie Girl & Me

So, as usual, she spent a whole 45 minutes or so with us, talking about our pets and what we could do to get her “Daddy” to agree to get one for her. I swear, this kid … if she continues to have that fearlessness and confidence about her … could very well be someone important and/or famous in the future. She’s just one of these kids that people just naturally gravitate to!

And yes, I also got to see my beautiful niece Kairi. She is growing so fast now! Except, well … since we didn’t get enough time to spend with just her, she wasn’t exactly in a “playful” mood with her Auntie & Uncle. And that kinda bummed me out.

Part of me thinks that the reason Kairi is like this around me is because she’s just not “used” to us … after all, she only sees us during major family gatherings. But then there’s the other part of me that thinks that the events that unfolded after her birth had a part to play with my relationship with her. It’s like … I don’t know … she unconsciously (or even consciously) knows that there was a major strain between her mom & me immediately following her birth.

Our Beautiful Niece, Kairi

I think there’s this incredible Catholic guilt feeling that feeds that train of thought. It’s the same thought I had during my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam and his consequent passing: that the circumstances surrounding Liam’s short life was a result of my feelings of jealousy over my SIL’s pregnancy. And similar to that, my lack of “connection” with Kairi is a result of the loss of connection with her mom following her birth. Realistically I know that none of it is true, but there are those days … like today …that these thoughts are stronger that usual.

I know I haven’t talked much lately about how my relationship with my SIL has been. It’s partly because I’ve learned from certain “foot in mouth” statements that certain things are best left off of Blog Land. But it’s mostly because things have been rather quiet and low key amongst the two of us. I’d like to think that we’ve reached a silent “truce” of sorts … that we’ve managed to move forward in fixing those severed ties.

I don’t think things will ever be a 100% better between SIL and me; but I do know that I’ve since learned a lot about myself since then. And one of them is knowing that I’m strong enough to move past the anger and hurt and resentment I felt for so long. Sure there will always be times where I might just shake my head at certain activities or actions, but I’m quite sure she probably has those same moments when thinking about me, as well. And I’m really, truly okay with that.

If anything, being in a room full of children under the age of 7 proves that I’m finally at that stage in my IF journey where I can start to let things go and accept things for what they are. And it, quite remarkably, feels good.

Hubby & The Birthday Celebrant

Patriotic and PO'd

I am so annoyed. And the thing is, I should know better. It’s not like I haven’t been out and about social-networking for years; so I can’t use the excuse that I’m ignorant to internet-iquette.

Except … well, except there are certain things in life that I guess I consider my moral compass in life. And one of them (amongst many others) has always been the ability that we’ve been given as human beings to make our own choices in life; to reason.

So when I start seeing Tweets or Facebook statuses that are intended to show “pride” or elicit some sort of dark humor, but end up sounding more offensive than anything … well, that just makes think, “What the H*LL were you thinking?”

In other words, did someone I *know* consciously make that decision to post something that might … just might be offensive to other people?

Don’t get me wrong … I’m the first one to admit that I’ve done things just as stupid as what I’m complaining about. I’ve even been called out on the carpet for such stupid actions as well. While it’s not the most pleasant feeling in the world, it has taught me the lesson to think what I’m saying before I speak … er, I mean type.

So what exactly am I PO’d about? Well, this is the status that started it all. One post that says …

“WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Press 1 for English. Press 2 to disconnect until you learn to speak English. And remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, JESUS CHRIST and the AMERICAN SOLIDER. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. If you agree and have the guts … copy and paste in your status!”

Yeah. I *personally* felt the sting of that one. On many levels. First there’s the whole “You’re in America, so you should only be speaking English.” Well I hate to burst the bubble here, but I believe that the US is considered a MELTING POT of different nations. You know, a mixture of people from different nations that have come to this nation in order to improve the quality of their lives and their families’ lives?

My parents were one of those people. Both came from the Philippines in search of a better life for themselves; a place where they could best make use of their education and talents and share it with the rest of the people in what has become their new “home.” While my Mom spoke fluent English (a primary language taught in Catholic school in the Philippines), my Dad learned it as a second language. And while I can’t *completely* understand what it’s like to learn English as a second language,  I can certainly empathize … especially since I’m “once-removed” from being born and raised outside the US.

And then there’s the part about having only two defining forces that have ever offered to die for me. I make no bones that I’m Christian; or more specifically, Catholic. I also fully admit that I’m not exactly a “practicing” Catholic; meaning that (much to my Mom’s chagrin) I don’t attend mass weekly. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God or Christ. Nor does it mean that I don’t hold myself to the basic Golden Rule, of which Christianity (and all other religions) is based.

In reality, I believe in the spirituality of Catholicism. I believe that there is GOOD in the world and that if your actions reflect what you believe in your heart to be good … then that goodness will return to you. But on the flipside, I do believe that BAD exist much in the same way. You reap what you sow. By living *my* life under the premise that I should do unto others as I would want done unto myself … well, that’s one of the reasons I *stop and think* about what I say or do before I act upon them. Would what I do hurt anyone else? What are the consequences of what I’m about to do?

Yeah … so to sprout the whole “Christ died for me” lecture in that Facebook status? Gimme a break. That is *NOT* a very “Christian” thing to do.

And trust me … I won’t go into the whole “American Soldier” bit; other than to say that I am patriotic enough to know that these soldiers have given up their “freedom” to keep America safe and *FREE*. And I’m also patriotic enough to know that it was a choice that they made. ‘Nuff said.

So why am I still riled up even though that Facebook status is now more than a week old? Well, it’s because of this status that was just posted on Monday:

“Shame on you America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment – yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this.”

Uh huh. Seriously.

Okay I get that, as a nation, we have homeless people and starving children and a health care system that’s broken for our elderly population / mentally ill population. But there is a reason why we are considered a wealthy country.

And when I mean “wealth,” I’m not strictly speaking about *FINANCIAL* wealth. I’m talking about a nation where we have many of the smartest, most progressive minds in the world. I’m talking about a country that shows their “wealth” by giving *every* individuals the opportunity … the choice, if you will … to improve themselves.

Do you think socialist countries afford every person that ability to better themselves? To move up in their station in life? More importantly, do you think that THIRD WORLD countries, like the Philippines or Haiti, are able to provide those same opportunities  to every citizen?

This is when America shines the most; when we provide *our* resources and services to countries that have been devastated by natural disasters. This is when we show exactly how generous a country we can be.

These moments … they are the moments when the words on our Statue of Liberty shine the brightest:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As I wrap up this long and rambling politically charged post … let me just remind everyone of one simple fact. Unless we are 100% Native American … we are all “immigrants” to this land. The same soil that has provided our forefathers (and now ourselves) with the ability to forge a new future; the land of opportunity … the land of CHOICES.

So just like our parents / grandparents / great-grandparents, etc who chose to come to the land of freedom (and who may have *NOT* known how to speak English) … choose your destiny (and your words/actions) wisely.

Other Related Strings

Archives